We had a conference call with our copacker this morning, and have an update to share regarding the Soylent 1.0 manufacturing progress.
At this time we are in the ingredients sourcing phase, where truckloads of different ingredients are arrive at the factory and undergo quality assurance testing. At the outset of the manufacturing process, our copacker quoted ingredient lead times that ranged from 3-6 weeks, with the custom vitamin blend taking the longest.
On Friday, they informed us that the only supplier of the brown rice protein that we are committed to using (it has the finest mesh size available, which makes an enormous difference in texture) is experiencing supply issues due to a global rice shortage, and had to push back their delivery date several weeks.
The protein was scheduled to arrive in mid-February, and we are not sure what prevented the supplier from notifying us of this issue earlier. In an attempt to mitigate this issue, the copacker overnighted two samples of Soylent 1.0 made with a blend of different available rice proteins with a larger mesh size. Unfortunately, the taste and texture of rice protein isolate differs greatly between manufacturers — the samples were far too chalky and had a much less appetizing taste.
We and are extremely unhappy to report this development. This rice protein is available from a single supplier (which holds a patent on the mesh screens used), and the volume of our order has apparently temporarily overwhelmed their production capabilities. In the future we will be able to provide longer projections of our demand for rice protein, and they will be able to scale up production accordingly.
Our copacker has promised to expedite every possible aspect of the manufacturing process: QA testing of our ingredients (normally one of the most time-consuming parts of the process) will be accelerated, and once all the ingredients have arrived we will have top priority on the production line. Under this updated production schedule, they are predicting that packaging will begin on or around March 20, which means that the first shipments of Soylent would be made to campaign backers by the last week of March.
Answering the question of gluten-free certification is another important milestone that we will be reaching once all of the ingredients have been delivered and tested. To be certified gluten-free, Soylent must contain less than 20ppm gluten. Once a sample batch has been blended and tested, we will be releasing the results.
As far as we know, all the rest of the ingredients will be delivered on time, and there are no other supply issues that have arisen. Again, we understand that yet another delay is extremely disappointing to our supporters, and that receiving your first shipment of Soylent is something that many of you have been anticipating for many months. We get emails every day from supporters who share the preparations they have made around the receipt of their Soylent order — college meal plans foregone, pantries intentionally emptied, sharing their eager anticipation with friends, family, and colleagues — and know how inconvenient and upsetting each delay has been. We are lucky to have such patient and loyal partners in this long process, and cannot wait to share the fruits (or powder) of our labor with all of you.