foodtech, liquid meals, drink

Industry Focus: Liquid Meals

According to The Guardian, people in the tech world are starting to replace their normal meals with liquid meals. This trend is also catching up in other busy workplaces. This is attributed to the fact that people want to eat healthily but simply don’t have the time to whip up a decent meal.

Although some people opt to make shakes, smoothies, and juices at home, it is much easier to just grab a bottle of liquid meal at a local convenience store. This has led to the emergence of several startups that produce these liquid meals.

These startups have taken the food industry by storm, resulting in the production of many job opportunities.

Advantages and disadvantages of liquid meals

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service website states that liquid meals have several advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of them.

Advantages of liquid meals

  • Liquid meals provide needed nutrients while simplifying calorie control
  • They come in a variety of flavors
  • They are convenient for those who are always on the go
  • They are suitable for those who are unable to chew

Disadvantages of liquid meals

  • Drinking liquid meals may lead to consumption of excess calories since chewing food helps you feel full faster. Eating the same calories in liquid form may not fill you up as much
  • Liquid meals still do not compare to a well-balanced diet

Using liquid meals for weight loss

WebMD asserts that it is indeed possible to lose a substantial amount of weight by substituting all or some of your solid meals with liquid ones. This is because liquid meals allow you to better your calorie control.

The major problem with this type of diet is that it lowers your metabolism after a while. This will likely lead to regaining of the previously lost weight. Additionally, Legion Blog associates liquid diets with low fiber intake.

Since fiber is what gives us the feeling of being full, these fiber deficient liquid meals will not make us full as fast as their solid counterparts. This may lead to overeating, which will eventually lead to weight gain. It is also important to note that the absence of chewing during liquid meal consumption is associated with low levels of satiety.

foodtech, liquid meals, smoothie

Using liquid meals for weight gain

Interestingly, liquid meals can also be used for weight gain and to increase nutrient intake. This is done by consuming them in addition to your normal meals. This is done especially by people who have reduced appetite, hospitalized people and the elderly.

This method of weight gain works well because most of these liquid meals contain a substantial amount of protein and carbohydrates. It’s no wonder that these meals, especially in the form of protein shakes, are popular among bodybuilders.

Are liquid meals easier to digest?

Liquid foods are generally easier to digest than their solid counterparts, which first need to be chewed. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that due to their struggle with food digestion, Health advises people with Crohn’s disease to consider a liquid diet.

In this way, liquid meals allow them to conveniently get the nutrients they need.

Market research

According to Nutraceuticals World, the meal replacement beverages market has grown significantly since its inception. This is probably due to the growth of the meal replacement products market as a whole.

In fact, a report by Mordor Intelligence states that the global meal replacement products market was at a size of $ 15.10 billion as of 2016, and is expected to reach $22.6 billion by 2022. This represents a CAGR of 6.9%

Influences on the market for liquid meals

This market growth is influenced by factors such as busy lifestyles and increased cases of diabetes and obesity. Increased health awareness, food convenience and increased reach of stores and e-commerce platforms have also contributed significantly to this growth.

Restrictions on the market growth include the availability of local alternatives and the high cost of production and marketing. This market is divided into segments according to product type, application, distribution channel, and geography.

foodtech, liquid meals, shake

What does the market of liquid meals look like?

On the basis of product type, the market is segmented into ready to drink shakes, edible bars, powdered products and others. Regarding applications, market segments include weight loss, weight gain, and convalescence and wound healing.

On the basis of the distribution channel, various segments include supermarkets, hypermarkets, online retailers, grocery retailers and food services. Geographically, the segments include North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, South America and Africa.

In this regard, North America dominates the market with a 53% market share. This is due to high consumption of meal replacement products in the region. Within North America, the United States is the largest consumer of these products due to its high rates of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

Regions such as Asia-Pacific and South America are also experiencing significant growth in their market shares. This is attributed to the high rate of consumption. Within the Asia Pacific region, China and India are undergoing the most growth due to their large populations and the improved lifestyles of their people.

Companies in this industry

The exponential growth of this industry has led to the emergence of several companies. All over the world, startups have emerged. Even Silicon Valley has taken notice. Here are some of the well-known names in the field.

  • Rosa Foods Inc. (Soylent): This company produces liquid meals and powdered meal replacements. Although this company originates from the United States, it also delivers its products to Canada. It produces nutritious meals that are made entirely from plants. It’s known for products like Soylent drink, Soylent café, Soylent powder pouch and Soylent powder tub.
  • Huel Limited: This UK based company produces nutritiously complete food. Its food product bears the same name as the company and is completely vegan. The Huel shake comes in only two flavors; vanilla and unflavored.
  • Abbott: This American company is a global leader in the healthcare and nutrition industry. It is mainly known for its nutrition shake which is known as Ensure Original. This product is not only nutritious but is also kosher and gluten-free.
  • Nestle: This global company produces a host of food products. Its liquid meal brand known as Boost includes several products. These products are considered to be highly nutritious energy giving drinks.

Jobs in the industry

Companies producing meal replacement products, especially liquid meals, are increasing each day. This has led to a rise in the number of job opportunities in the field. Here are some job positions you can occupy in this industry.

Operations manager

This position involves ensuring high quality and efficiency of production within the processing plant. The minimum qualifications for this position are 7 years’ experience and a bachelor’s degree in food science, accounting or business administration.

Associate data analyst

This job mainly entails collaboration with other company departments to improve access to data. To land such a job, you require at least 1 year of experience in quantitative analysis and a bachelor’s degree in a course that includes some subjects in statistics and programming.

This position comes with perks such as a competitive salary and health benefits.

Brand director

A brand director is in charge of brand and product management. This involves being responsible for customer marketing and development of the brand strategy. Desired candidates for such a position should ideally have a master’s degree in business administration and relevant experience as a brand manager or director.

This job comes with perks such as flexible work hours and a personal office.

foodtech, liquid meals, jobs, careers, study programs

University programs

To pursue a career in this field, there are several degree courses you could undertake. Food science is a popular option. Chemical engineering and business administration courses could also offer you some success in this field.

However, experience in a food processing company will always give you a competitive edge. Here are some of the university programs that would help you succeed in this sector.

Undergraduate programs

Postgraduate programs

Doctoral programs

Conclusion

Meal replacement products, especially liquid meals, are quickly gaining popularity and are definitely here to stay. The growth of this industry is highly welcomed by the many job seekers who are searching for new opportunities.

Every job seeker who is searching to be a part of the constantly growing world of food technology should pursue a career in this field. For updates on the latest job opportunities in this dynamic industry, feel free to visit our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter.

If you liked this article, you might also like to have a look at our feature on meal replacements in general.

Theresa Kern

Theresa Kern

Business Development at beta|careers
Theresa is a management student and team member of the 2017 class at beta|careers.

Her responsibilities include growing and nurturing our platforms and, occasionally, taking care of bus tickets for the team. In her free time, she can be found on horseback out in the woods.
Theresa Kern

Ecosystem Basics, Foodtech