Taste Radio Insider Episode 59

The ‘Slightly Out Of Control’ Growth Strategy

+ James McMaster, Huel


James McMaster, the CEO of Huel, a fast-growing brand of nutritionally complete meal replacement powders and RTD beverages, doesn’t mind a little chaos. 

At the helm of a brand whose products are sold in 80 countries and are expected to generate over $50 million in sales in 2019, McMaster compares the U.K.-based company’s growth to that of an amusement park ride.

“You’re on this roller coaster and you’re trying to keep it under control, but you like it being slightly out of control so it can breathe and reach its potential,” McMaster said in an interview included in this episode. “At the same time, you have to keep building foundations behind you.”

Founded in 2015, Huel, which derives its name from “human” and “fuel,” has built a thriving direct-to-consumer business in Europe and the U.S. While e-commerce is the brand’s primary focus, Huel has gradually introduced distribution to brick-and-mortar retailers in order to broaden accessibility and awareness of its products.

As part of our conversation, McMaster spoke about how Huel has managed growth in multiple countries, the challenges that come with rapid expansion and why formal referral programs are central to its consumer acquisition strategy.

In this Episode

1:25: ‘Tis The Season For Sampling, Slams and Showdowns — The episode’s hosts chatted about the BevNET Live and NOSH Live Winter 2019 conferences and opportunities for entrepreneurs to showcase their brands and products at the events. They also spoke about upcoming deadlines for the NOSH Live’s Pitch Slam and BevNET Live’s New Beverage Showdown competitions and tips on how brands can work with retailers during the busy holiday season.
13:18: Interview: James McMaster, CEO, Huel — In an interview recorded at the 2019 Bread & Jam Festival in London, McMaster spoke with BevNET CMO Mike Schneider about his work experience prior to joining Huel and why he was drawn to the company’s purpose-driven mission. He also discussed brand’s target consumers, why its foray into the U.S. came with a few growing pains, and lessons from launching in other countries. Later, McMaster spoke about keys to effective communication across global offices and why Huel created a “culture book” for its employees, why direct-to-consumer has been so successful for the brand and what he views as the evolution of and potential for the category of meal replacement foods and beverages.

Also Mentioned

Huel, , Ella’s Kitchen, UP&GO