HomeFundingIdris and Sabrina Elba back Huel to develop its impact-driven vision of...

Idris and Sabrina Elba back Huel to develop its impact-driven vision of improving access to sustainable nutrition

UK-based startup Huel has just raised about €23 million for its approach to sustainable nutrition. The foodtech startup is planning to tackle global nutrition challenges and has scored the backing of high-profile names, including Idris and Sabrina Elba, Jonathan Ross and Grace Beverley. 

In the world of foodtech, two trends are proving particularly influential at the moment – sustainability and health. The two trends go hand-in-hand, creating healthier diets for people whilst at the same time contributing to a healthier planet and healthier societies. It comes as the world faces the escalating climate crisis, concerns over the environmental impact of farming, and the struggle to adequately and nutritiously feed a growing population. 

Huel is aiming to address these challenges with its plant-based product. The startup has been growing fast and now has celeb backing to fuel its mission. 

The details

  • €23 million was raised in a round led by Highland Europe
  • SAG-winning actor, musician, filmmaker and philanthropist and UN Goodwill Ambassador Idris Elba OBE joined the list of backers which also includes his wife, Sabrina Dhowre Elba, also a UN Goodwill Ambassador, award-winning TV presenter, Jonathan Ross and sustainable activewear brand TALA’s CEO, Grace Beverley.
  • It gives the startup a valuation of over €540 million

Idris Elba: “I’ve been a Hueligan for several years now, starting my journey while preparing for my role in Thor, so to come on board with Huel was an easy decision.  I believe in their mission to deliver nutritionally complete food, sustainably.  We have some exciting projects coming up and I look forward to spreading the message and raising awareness around healthy, low-carbon food.”

James McMaster, CEO: “Highland Europe have been a strong backer for our business in the last four years and we’re delighted about the extra support from Idris, Sabrina, Grace and Jonathan. Our investors have all expressed their belief for what we are trying to achieve at Huel – making nutritionally complete, convenient, affordable food, with minimal impact on animals and the environment.” 

A nutritionally complete food that’s more accessible and less impactful

Founded in 2015 by Julian Hearn, Huel is on a mission to make nutritionally complete, convenient and affordable food, with minimal impact on animals and the environment.

The plant-based product offers ‘complete nutrition’ to consumers – essentially meaning each meal provides a balance of protein, carbs, fibre, essential fats and phytonutrients, plus all 26 essential vitamins and minerals required on a daily basis. 

The product has grown in popularity with fitness fans and nutritionists and so far the brand has sold over 270 million meals worldwide since its inception in 2015, with 50% of sales now outside the UK, building an army of loyal ‘Hueligans’ across the globe. 

Grace Beverley:My passion for fitness and sustainability goes hand-in-hand with Huel’s mission, making it an easy decision to come on board. I look forward to seeing their next stage of growth and development as we move into 2023.

Now, with the backing of UN Goodwill Ambassadors, the foodtech startup is going on an impact-led journey, wanting to make a difference in the world and address the global gap in access to nutrition – a problem that will only grow with the escalating climate crisis and food insecurity challenge. 

To this end, Idris and Sabrina Elba will partner with Huel to bolster the brand’s existing commitment to tackling poor nutrition and sustainable farming. Paired with this mission, Idris and Sabrina are working with Huel on their climate change initiative – eat for 1.5 degrees. Huel meals fit within a diet aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, and Huel believes that raising awareness of our diets is one of the simplest and most effective actions people can take to tackle climate change.

James McMaster: “We are trying to change the way the world thinks about food and Huel offers a solution to help people make easy changes to their food choices. We’re excited to have the opportunity to work with Idris and Sabrina to raise awareness of the role of food in climate change, and to encourage individuals and the industry in general to move towards a food system based on sustainable nutrition

With this funding, the company will also support agricultural development programmes in Sierra Leone to support a new generation of healthy, low-carbon footprint diets that are sustainable and accessible to all. 

In addition, Huel plans to step up international expansion, with a particular focus on the US. Since its market launch in 2017, the US has become the brand’s second-biggest market. The investment will also support new product innovation, and continued expansion into retail stores in addition to the core online channel. 

Highland Europe:We partnered with Huel when it was just 3 years old and predominantly an online business in the UK. It has since expanded incredibly well across geographies, channels and products. We remain a committed partner and look forward to the next chapter in the journey” 

Huel is available in its original powdered range as well as a Ready-to-drink format, a Hot & Savory lunch option, on-the-go snack bars and a protein powder. All Huel products take less than 5 minutes to prepare and provide an innovative solution perfect for time-poor consumers. Further, each product has a 6 month+ shelf life which minimizes food waste and offers multiple servings to reduce packaging waste. 

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Patricia Allen
Patricia Allen
is the Head of Content at EU-Startups. With a background in politics, Patricia has a real passion for how shared ideas across communities and cultures can bring new initiatives and innovations for the future. She spends her time bringing you the latest news and updates of startups across Europe, and curating our social media.

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