Will soylent ever be offered in orders over one month? At volumes of 1-2 years supply would it be possible to get the price down to <$2.00 per meal? I really like the idea of soylent but the price per meal doesn’t seem very good right now.
Shipping is always going to be a bottleneck.
Look at prices of protein or other similar supplements. Yes, you’re going to find slightly cheaper prices between a 2.5kg container and a 5kg container, but the difference in 5kg vs. 10kg will be smaller. And the manufacture of powdered protein is not a small market: this is orders of magnitude larger an operation than what Soylent is doing. Soylent is nothing new in the supplements department (in terms of their business model and restrictions), so just use common sense from what’s already out there.
As someone who’s lived in multiple countries, I can assure you that there is no solution to cheap international shipping; it’s one of the world’s great unsolved mysteries. This is why I’m somewhat pessimistic about Soylent’s international model. If you assume that one day’s recipe is 500g, then that’s 15kg for one month. That’s an extremely challenging weight to ship.
As a test, I went to Vitacost.com (which I have had a positive experience shipping US to UK) and ‘purchased’ six 5lbs (roughly 15kg) tubs of whey protein. Shipping cost was $120. On top of this, international buyers will have to pay taxes and duties. The only way to get around this is to hire a massive crate and to ship it by boat, which some people do when they move between countries and need to ship larger items.
There is not really any incentive for Rob to give major discounts to 1-2 year orders of Soylent. Maybe we’re talking 1-5% discounts, here. Maybe a teensy-bit more if they do the maths and find out how much a paid-up-front model can gather in interest.
Personally, this line of inquiry has solidified my belief that the DIY route is really the correct route for virtually anybody not in the US. (Canada, included—as shipping to Canada is almost as painful as shipping to any international country). Most people’s recipes are at £5/day. Once you factor in the cost of shipping, taxes, and duties, I can’t imagine how Rob will ship internationally for less than £6-7/day.
What I’m saying is still true of domestic shipping, but perhaps not as drastic. What I imagine might be viable is a subscription service to Soylent, where you pay upfront for a 1 year supply, say. Rob might value this as 5% of potential income from interest/investments, plus a guaranteed purchase. So maybe we’re talking a 2-3% discount. But there wouldn’t be any incentive to give, say, 10% discount.
Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob and Co. has put international distribution of Soylent very, very low on the list of priorities. There are just certain bottlenecks that you cannot get past, and maintain a profit. The shipping bottleneck is the most obvious one.
I would guess that Rob and Co. will eventually copy their current manufacturing deal with partners in other countries. They will only ship Soylent internationally until they can get setup in other countries.
This is basically what I figured would happen, I’m sure most of the ingredients can be sourced/manufactured in most Western countries as easily as they are in the US
Unfortunately, I don’t know much about establishing extensions of your business internationally (though where would their European distribution be based). All I know is my pessimism: if it was straightforward, then the hundreds of US supplement stores would already have done it. I know for example, bodybuilding.com partered with CEVA logistics to create distribution centers in Europe…but this was years after their US store was solid.
It’s not that I’m being overly pessimistic, but one of the big questions I had going down the DIY path was whether the initial buy-in was worth it if Soylent would be shipping internationally in 2014.
Well I think the hard part for Soylent is getting the actual recipe down pat, after that they can almost start franchises in different countries and rely on local sourcing of materials.
You’ll have to do your own calculation. For me, If I was an international buyer of Soylent, the DIY would pay for itself for the 6 months? it’s going to take to ship. I"d say even a 3 month window would do it. If I trusted myself to mix the stuff, I’d have started months ago.