Huel advert banned for suggesting its products can help save money on food

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Nutrition Advertising Uk

The UK’s advertising watchdog said Huel should not state or imply that consuming its products was cheaper than a ‘traditional’ diet.

The facebook ad and website page for Huel had asked consumers ‘Want to save money on food’; stating that ‘an entire month’s worth of Huel works out at less than £50’.

But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) calculated that the amount of Huel theoretically required to deliver sufficient calories over 30 days would cost in excess of £350 and thus the advert was misleading.

Financial crisis context

Huel’s mission is to provide ‘complete nutrition’ through its range of powders, RTD drinks and bars: which contain protein, essential fats, carbs, fiber and 27 essential vitamins and minerals. Having been founded in 2015, it is now valued at $560m and has attracted a host of celebrity investors.

Its adverts in August and September were seen in the context of a worsening financial crisis, said the ASA.

“We considered that 'Huel helps keep money in your pockets' and 'An entire month’s worth of Huel works out at less than £50', and the prominent text 'Want to save money on food?’ would be interpreted by consumers to mean that Huel products could be used as a way to save money on a monthly food bill,” said the watchdog.

Most problematic was Huel’s calculation of a monthly cost of £50 for its products.

Huel said its ad was never intended to advocate the substitute of all​ meals, and said that if its products were used as a substitute for more expensive convenience foods with a similar nutritional profile then it would represent a cost saving.

While its advert did clarify that the calculations were based on ’34 meals for $1.51 per meal’, the ASA said the less prominent position of this statement did not make this calculation clear.

With one Huel portion containing 400 calories, an adult woman would need to consumer five portions a day, meaning 150 portions a month, at a cost of £350, the ASA calculated - with a man's calorie requirements being even higher.

“Based on the overall presentation of the ad, we considered it did not make sufficiently clear to consumers that the cost saving was only based on consuming one Huel product a day and was not the equivalent to a month’s worth of food covering all meals,” said the ASA.

The ASA also took issue with Huel’s claim of being a ‘healthy option’, because this was not accompanied with a specific authorized health claim.

In response to the ASA’s decision, Huel said it regretted any confusion that might have been created by their ads and said it would take immediate steps to remove the problematic adverts as well as reviewing all other live ads to ensure full compliance in the UK.

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