First off, I am very excited to try (or at least follow the progress) of this new product.
But my first thoughts were “what is new about this?” and “why is it so expensive?”…
For example, I bought a big can (1 month supply) of a nutritional powder called “The Ultimate Meal” made over in Santa Barbara - has been around for 30 years and offers complete nutrition in a powder (vegan/organic). It only costs $50 for a month. Yet Soylent costs $255/month.
“You are holding the ONLY product on Earth that offers ALL of the above. No gimmicks, stimulants or fillers, just the ULTIMATE ingredients, which are essential not only for good, or even great, but OPTIMUM health. This eliminates the need to add anything to THE ULTIMATE MEAL except whole fruits & purified water. Bottom Line: The Ultimate Meal is the most nutritious & efficient MEAL available anywhere at any price”
@Eryk is spot on here. There’s another product called “Raw Meal” which is actually a bit cheaper than “The Ultimate Meal” but even when I buy it with a 15% discount on Amazon it still comes out to something like $5 per meal. These other options are primarily feel good meal replacements which include a ton of high priced ingredients that sound good but aren’t really optimized for as a long term diet. Soylent is different from all these other powers because it aims to use the most cost effective ingredients AND hit the right balance of macros and micros. In doing so, it’s really a viable diet replacement rather than meal alternative.
This is pretty cool. I had no idea there was anything like this around. I’d say this is the first actual “competitor” to soylent I’ve ever seen. Since it actually claims to want to replace meals completely. (Or rather, Soylent is the first competitor to the ultimate meal?) BUT… what @Eryk said.
It says it’s 30 “meals”, (not 30 days), per $50. But 1 meal is 170 calories. So unless you plan to starve, even in a low calorie diet (1700/day) you’d need 10 meals/day. Which means you’d be at the upper limit for calcium (2500mg) and past the upper limit for folate (1250mg) and you’d need to buy one of these containers every 3 days ($500/month).
That’s not to say it isn’t a badass suppliment. Maybe even a good base for a DIY recipe.
I guess comparing The Ultimate Meal to Soylent isn’t a fair comparison because of the (lack of) calories in the Ultimate Meal, and because you have to pay additionally for the almond milk, fruit, veggies or whatever else you want to add into your shake…
These threads about whether the official Soylent is any cheaper than an alternative come up all the time. As @Eryk has pointed out, you need to carefully do the math. However, as I’ve written on numerous occasions (see here for example), the cost of $3-6/day is pretty much the best that it gets.
Case in point: a requirement of 100-120g of protein per day. There is no way you can get around the fact that this will cost about $1/day to cover the protein. Protein powder is nearly the most cost efficient solution (apart from, e.g. tuna, eggs, etc. which are only marginally cheaper). Similarly, there are other bottlenecks. If you study the base ingredients, and make a list of the costs, you’ll find that Soylent’s $255/month is close to optimal. I can imagine them cutting the cost down to $200/month, but not much more than that.
It’s not a matter of what the Soylent company is doing. It’s a matter of the fact that there are certain minimum prices you need to pay.
Later edit: In fact, my estimate of $1/day for protein is probably too low (I pay £1.20 in the UK). Here is a calculation for US prices: it cost $54 for a 5 lbs tub of Optimum Whey here on amazon. Assuming 80% protein content, this is
$5 / 2.2 kg per lbs * 0.8 * 1000 g per kg / $54 = 33g/$
$255 a month sounds somewhat reasonable, but it’s not drastically different from what I spend on groceries. I know it would be a guaranteed nutritional balance (or at least I choose to believe they aren’t lying), but in his first experiment / write-up on it, Rob said he would only need to spend $50 a month (http://robrhinehart.com/?p=298, under Money section) instead of $250 (later reduced to $157 or so) on groceries.
I understand a company has to make a profit, but 5x price increase from what he originally touted as being one of the benefits? So I will go back to the why so expensive question.
I’m working under the assumption that the price of Soylent will go down after it has been in mass-production for a while. Initial prices are always higher due to the costs of getting everything started up in the first place. Once they’re making enough profit off of the sales of Soylent to keep everything going, then they can lower the price.
EDIT: Perhaps I should say that I’m “hoping and praying” that the price goes down. I’m on a pretty tight budget, and the current price of a one month’s supply is about half of my monthly earnings.