Bay Area brand Ample wants to redefine ‘meal replacements’

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Bay Area brand Ample wants to redefine ‘meal replacements’

Related tags Nutrition

Ample’s founder and CEO Connor Young isn’t so keen on the term ‘meal replacement.’ “The term makes it seem as if we’re trying to replace a food—this is a meal, just in a liquid form,” he told NutraIngredients-USA.

Hence, Ample​ is using the term ‘meal shake’ to describe its products—bottles of powdered ingredients formulated to give the modern time-strapped person all the nutrients they need in the convenience of a drinkable meal.

There are three varieties, each coming in at 600 calories or 400 calories a bottle. The original is based on plant-based fats made out of coconut, macadamia nut, chia seed, and sunflower. It also has grass-fed whey and collagen, probiotics and prebiotics, and servings of greens like organic barley grass and organic chlorella.

The brand subsequently launched two more products: a vegan option, and most recently a ketogenic variety which is shipping this month.

Starting Ample in a post-Soylent world

Founded in 2015, the brand is an evolution of liquid meals Young used to make for his 20-and 30-something tech-industry friends.

“We were all doing our own thing, people were very driven but ​[a lot of them] didn’t know how to manage their own health,” ​he said. To his community, former CrossFit gym owner Young was the ‘nutrition guru.’

“At one point, I made a nutrition course for them, so I created a lecture series and cooking class for them,” ​he added.

It didn’t work. The hard part for many of them was feeding oneself something nutritious in the middle of the day when there’s not much time, Young said.

Around this time, Silicon Valley was being swept by then novel product Soylent, a product which several of Young’s friends started taking. “One of my friends was using it, but he didn’t feel that great while he was on it…he came to me to ask about whether there are any other ​[similar brands],” Young recalled. His first instinct was to press him to just make nutritious meals with fresh ingredients.

“I realized it was pretty unattainable for every single person to make all their own food every single time, so I told him ‘I’ll make you something’,” ​and the rest is history.

Growing demand for meal replacements

At the beginning, Ample was funded by Young’s own money he got from selling the CrossFit gym that he started. In 2016, he launched an Indiegogo campaign and garnered $370,640—the most funds raised for a nutrition product on the crowdfunding site so far.

The company then secured angel investments from 500 Startups, Hawkshead Capital, Compound, and others.

Ample is part of a new wave of drinkable meals that strive to breathe fresh air into a category once dominated by weight-loss oriented shakes stacked on pharmacy shelves by using novel ingredients and sexier branding.

While Soylent has become a poster child for the category, as indicated by its foray into brick-and-mortar retailers starting with a test-run in 7-Eleven​ last year and now winning distribution with Big Geyser​ for the New York metro area, many start-ups are riding on its momentum and offering something similar but different.

For Ample it’s about using fresh, organic ingredients. To Young, it’s the meal kit companies that he sees as bigger competition, especially those tailored for specific diets like the keto, Paleo, or veganism.

“The purpose of Ample is that we are constantly improving and constantly iterating. We’re a process, and not necessarily a product,” ​Young said.

“We innovate along with the current science and make sure we’re staying on top of the current research to make sure our products will always have the best quality of ingredients.”

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