4 min read

Looking Back at 2021 at Soylent

One year ago, when the world around us was transforming and businesses were suffering unprecedented challenges, we set out to make a plan.

We took a close look at what our customers wanted, what our products needed, and how our team could evolve. We sought to understand what was truly driving demand, where and how we’d grown, and who else we might be able to reach. 

With the end of 2021 around the corner, I wanted to share a bit about how far Soylent has come in the last 12 months—in large part thanks to sticking to the plan we forged last year. 

Following the roadmap

Our biggest takeaway from 2021 was the importance of execution.

While larger businesses may find it hard to quickly adapt, more agile companies can have trouble sticking to a plan. During the pandemic, we suddenly found ourselves in a remote environment, reshuffling our processes every few months and figuring out new ways of working. And like so many companies, we faced supply chain problems and staffing challenges we never expected. 

We’ve had to deal with these curveballs in the near term while having the discipline to stay focused on our goals. Executing means members of our team concentrating on their mission today, even while keeping an eye on future plans.

The results have been undeniable: during a time when many food and beverage companies our size are struggling to turn a profit, we’re doing it while showing sustainable growth.

We revamped all our beverages for improved taste and reduced sugar. We also launched Complete Protein and Complete Energy to complement our Complete Meal product line.  And we just unveiled our single-serve, 200-calorie powder packets for anywhere nutrition.

Our execution on these products has helped drive a consumption increase in retail and new partnerships, bringing our offline footprint above 28,000 retail locations. Our community of subscribers is growing too, making us now the largest independent line of plant-based meal replacement beverages in the US. Today, our customer base is increasingly broad, with more diverse demographics looking to us for their nutrition for all kinds of reasons. 

Living our values

Within the company, we’ve also seen our plan help Soylent unlock unrealized talent. 

In a year when so many businesses needed employees they couldn’t find, we promoted more people than ever. Flattening our organization has helped open new opportunities for members of our team, including in leadership roles. And because we’re all running the same playbook and using the same metrics for success, we’ve been able to benefit from those changes without disruption. 

Meanwhile, many in the plant-based industry at large have faced struggles in 2021, in ways that validated our belief in delivering products that truly appeal to broad-based audiences. We expect to continue to mature and grow—not thanks to hype, but because of people who simply love what we do, who want plant-based products that are good tasting, good for you, and good for the environment.

Despite all of the challenges that businesses have faced during the pandemic, we still believe that the most successful companies are not only selling great products but are doing good for society as a whole. This past year, we continued to help fight food insecurity by partnering with organizations like Swipe Out Hunger, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and The Midnight Mission, donating more than 2.5 million since the beginning of the pandemic and bringing our total to more than 5 million overall.

We’ve also expanded our commitment to environmental stewardship, becoming one of the first-ever recipients of the United Soybean Board’s Sustainable U.S. Soy mark for our partnership with American farmers. As ever, all soy used in Soylent’s products is grown in the US on family farms with responsible labour and environmental practices, protecting highly erodible soils and wetlands, while using less water and energy than other plant proteins. 

There’s much more to come. Because we set ourselves on the path to growing this year, in 2022 we can amplify our momentum and grow faster in our core areas, expanding in retail and in our online business. 

In 2020, we reworked our foundation, thinking more about survival than about new projects. In 2021, we stuck to our plan and showed that it works. Looking to next year, we’re thrilled to spend more of our time innovating, reaching for more growth, and making our customers even happier.