“Health is no longer seen as a food trend, it’s here to stay.” So says Edward Taylor, founder and director of protein powder meal company Purition. He reveals it was his own health and fitness journey that led him, aged 39, to adopt a lower carbohydrate “real” food diet, removing what he describes as “unnecessary starchy carbs, sugar and processed foods”.
However, “the lack of credible ‘convenience’ on this journey to better health” prompted him to found Purition, now serving up 50,000 powdered meals a week.
Taylor’s focus from the start has been on what he describes as “real” food and “real” taste. “We’ll never be the biggest company because we don’t formulate foods to be ‘hyper-palatable’,” he says.
“It has taken seven years of primarily word of mouth to get us to this point consistently. We’re self-funded, so have to take it slowly. There are a lot of other businesses in our space burning venture capital or crowd funds, where the real driver is profit and growth.”
Taylor is quite scathing about some of the claims flying around in the ‘health’ and ‘complete foods’ sector of the market, admitting that he is even “conflicted about the phrase ‘plant-based’ because it’s used by many as a false health halo to hawk very ultra-processed junk foods”.
“And what is ‘junk food’ if it is not ultra-processed foods made hyper-palatable?” he asks. “No nutritionist, doctor or health professional would ever recommend someone get all their food from complete powders. Nobody ever said it’s a good idea to get all your nutritional requirements from a handful of ultra-processed ingredients from countries like China, including powdered oats, powdered protein and refined seed oils, sweetened and flavoured to be sweeter than ice cream.”
His own company’s message, he explains, is “whole food”, rather than “ultra-processed complete food”. “But it’s a hard message, because people, on the whole are so trusting of spurious brand soundbites that provide seemingly foolproof solutions to their problem, that they want it to be true,” he adds.
Core to the vision at Purition is sourcing ingredients locally where possible. “This really is our USP,” says Taylor. “We source natural and local, preferring British, then EU suppliers, wherever feasible. In reality over 80% of our ingredients are grown in the EU and the majority from right here in the UK – by that I mean British produce, grown locally.” These include pumpkin seeds from Greece, chia seeds from the UK and whole almonds and whole sunflower seeds.
Sesame and pumpkin seeds, nuts, grains and other ingredients, such as whole fruits and vanilla pods, come into Purition’s Shropshire-based site each day, where they are sieved, ground, chopped, measured and mixed by hand, then shipped out to customers the same day by a 12-strong team. No artificial ingredients, gums, emulsifiers, additives or preservatives are used.
Purition powders, made in small batches, now number 14 flavours (eight everyday and six vegan) ranging from almond, chocolate, macadamia & vanilla, coffee & walnut to beetroot & chocolate.
While exports are a tiny part of the business – about 5% – Taylor says the company is now in ‘beta mode’, testing markets and customer feedback. “Our next big push will be in the US and some key EU markets.”
Given its dedication to its core health values, Purition has not moved beyond powdered meals into any other concept, such as snack bars. “We’d love to have a bar, but we can’t stick it together without using sugar or some ultra-processed binders and we just won’t do that to our customers or tamper with our core health values, which are all about lowering sugar and processed carbs. If anyone out there knows how we can do it without cheating, please let me know!”
Instead, Taylor’s vision for the future is to stand by the firm’s core values of whole food with a customer first approach.
“Purition is made of substantially more ‘real’ food than most other convenient food options, such as breakfast bars or processed shakes, and has way less sugar than any homemade fruit smoothies.”
While it boasts a varied customer base, founder and director Edward Taylor (pictured) says Purition customers are “mainly women interested in good health or dietary change to achieve better health, with taste and convenience”.
Most of the business, he says is from long-term loyalists and the company really only sells to people who have tried this type of product before.
“We simply don’t have the marketing budget to convert someone who has not already considered these products. Thankfully, these days, many more people are used to making smoothies, having protein shakes for snacks or have dabbled with diet shakes and ‘complete shakes’ so it has become easier.
“Seven years ago, it was a bit odd to want to drink a meal. Now, it’s much more mainstream,” he adds. “With our very natural ingredients list, customers have a very low hurdle to jump in order to try our products as there are no ingredients to be scared or wary of – in contrast to many other powder meals out there, which are full of all sorts of unfamiliar man-made ingredients.”