Startup folks are always trying to optimize everything – from customer purchase flows to productivity to… food. With this in mind I tried Hello Hungry liquid meal, compared it to other healthy snacks, took notes and photos. This is just personal opinion but I hope it helps some more office people decide if the liquid meal by one of #LTstartups now available on Indiegogo is the right thing for you.

Overall ranking:

What I did:

1. I received a sample mailed to me by Hello Hungry founders. The box contained three bottles with 3 different flavors of Hello Hungry liquid meal:

(1) Pink bottle: Buckwheat with strawberry, banana, carrot and beatroot (sweet)

(2) Green bottle: Buckweet with mango, spinach and peach (semi-sweet)

(3) Red bottle: Buckwheet with tomato and basil (no indication)

2. I conducted an experiment. I first planned to survive the workday on Hello Hungry only, apart from my breakfast and dinner. I had taken 2 bottles and survived 2/3 of my day, but felt strange. Founders responded fast and warned me not to do it again, as despite it is a liquid meal, Hello Hungry is not a meal replacement. The drink is merely a substitute for unhealthy snacks, created to safely postpone meals, not to replace them. I then took a proper meal and continued my experiment, using no more than one bottle a day.

The result: I appreciated the effect. One bottle postponed my hunger for about 1-3h, depending on how well I ate in the morning, without notable side effects.

3. I conducted control treatment. After finishing my sample bottles, I spent a few days without snacks. After that, I decided to compare Hello Hungry to other alternatives. I went to the supermarket next to my office looking for healthiest snacks I could find – something I would use, if I did not have Hello Hungry. I did not bother testing junk food like potato chips or coke, as everyone knows they are bad. The key was to look for something a reasonably health-conscious office person would choose.

So this was what I ended up with:

(1) The most expensive brand of liquid bio yogurt

(2) A pack of nuts and dry fruits

(3) Kinder Country chocolate

The result: I appreciated the effect, but each snack was a bit different. I made a table tracking key advantages and drawbacks that I noticed. I also compared them to how Hello Hungry fared on each of the aspects.

Taste: All three snacks I picked tasted good, because it was me who picked them. Even though founders warned me that Hello Hungry may taste unusual as first, it was not bad. I did, however, develop certain preferences in this order: (1) Pink bottle, (2) Red bottle, (3) Green bottle. I suggest you first try which taste you prefer, before ordering in bulk. There is a great review of each of the three tastes here.

Storage: Hello Hungry is pretty similar to a liquid yogurt. Key difference is that it is less sweet, tastes more like food, can be stored for about a month and without a fridge.

Aftertaste: I am rather sensitive to aftertaste and this is why I prefer liquids. Both nuts and chocolate left aftertaste and unclean feeling on my teeth, while Bio yogurt and Hello Hungry performed similarly.

Satiety effect: Now this is the most important. People use snacks to postpone a meal and not be bothered by hunger. Chocolate gave me energy but the hunger came back rather fast, coupled with unpleasant feeling in my stomach. Nuts and dry fruits performed well, just as liquid bio yogurt and Hello Hungry.

Side effects: This is also important. While you want to fight hunger, you do not want to get new problems in return. The key problem with chocolate was that it was too sweet to sustain as a regular snack. Nuts and dry fruits did well but needed a lot of water to prevent constipation. Both liquid snacks performed alright for me, without any notable side effects.

Price: If you need to negotiate with your boss to order snacks for your office, price will be one of the factors, too. The cheapest are nuts and Kinder Country. Assuming that the boss also cares about previously assessed factors, though, the two most likely options are liquid bio yogurt and Hello Hungry. The second is more affordable and does not need a fridge to store it.

Additional assessment sheet:

To be fair and make it clear that 5 green ticks do not mean the product is a magic bullet, I also noted top 5 reassuring factors and top 5 reservations I had while using Hello Hungry:

Good taste vs Few tastes

The taste felt good to me and I was generally happy with Hello Hungry. However, as I visited LOGIN 2015 where jury of different ages and backgrounds was exposed to the drink, I noted that feedback varied. Some people loved it, while others noted they would not go for  this taste. Among suggestions were lime and lemon, carrots, grapes and oranges.

So again, I would advise tasting before ordering in bulk. For example, I could taste banana in pink bottle but not mango in the green one, while someone else said he preferred the mango drink.

Package design

This one deserves a separate note. The package and customer experience is designed well. The message on the box asks you to drink it only if you have worked hard enough. The message within the box makes it easy for you to provide feedback. The messages on each bottle are funny and foster positive mood.

The box itself is made to keep up perfectly and without effort, while closing easily, if needed. Each bottle has its own place. When you take the bottle out, you can also conveniently put it vertically, while drinking. The bottle itself is easy to open, convenient to hold and easy to recycle. The box is easily recyclable too.

Short effect, not meal replacement

I wanted to stress that the effect of Hello Hungry only lets you postpone your meals 1-3 hours, not skip them altogether. So people looking for meal replacement should not think that Hello Hungry is a magic liquid – you still need to eat proper meals to keep healthy.

Easy to store vs Hard to buy

Hello Hungry is as easy to store as junk food, but it is a better alternative. It is easy to buy and store for a business owner who wants to stock up on Hello Hungry for his workers. However, if you are the only fan of Hello Hungry at your office, you cannot just get it from any nearby supermarket – you need to order it in advance and wait for the package to arrive.

Healthy ingredients vs Unclear value

I have not brought the bottles to a nutritionist, but the ingredients do look better than on most other alternatives. Additionally, if a factory in Austria agreed to produce it and if the UK government approved the company to use Hello Hungry in commercial activity, it must be safe. However, just like with every new technology, you cannot be 100% sure. During their pitch at LOGIN 2015 Hello Hungry team admitted that despite the product is certified and safe to sell, they are on the lookout for experienced nutritionists to perfect the recipe and approve that it also provides health benefits.

Customer feedback:

One opinion is not enough to infer anything, so I looked for more. First I searched social media for endorsements and complaints about Hello Hungry. Even though Hello Hungry is just a recently launched Indiegogo project, there are some people who’ve already had their chance to try it. I did not find complaints, only positive feedback:

Another important aspect: it seems that everyone supporting them gets their product right away, before waiting for funding campaign to be completed:

Because they are shipping right away, I would suggest for offices to first order a smaller quantity from their Indiegogo campaign and then do a follow-up order for the most demanded flavors in bulk.  I also hope that healthy liquid meal substitutes like the ones we see in space films will soon be available to the masses, likely through Indiegogo and maybe even by Hello Hungry.