Saturday, November 21, 2015

Test of a new product - Ambronite drinkable supermeal

About 5 weeks ago I received an email from someone called Valerie Vlasenko, saying she contacted me because of my blog. She is part of a team and company, called Ambronite, who had developed a new "drinkable supermeal" and she figured that, because of my audience and shared interests in the outdoors, I might be interested in trying some of it.
As she wrote;
 5 quick facts about Ambronite:
  • It is real, nutritious whole food that satisfies hunger for 4-5 hours.
  • Ambronite contains 100% of all daily nutrients, fulfils US and EU nutritional guidelines for all nutrients: healthy fats, carbs, protein, and all 24 vitamins and minerals + fiber
  • Used by competitors in world series like Volvo Ocean Race, Adventure Racing World Series and Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. Also recommended by outdoor & world travellers:
At first I was very sceptical, since I do not favour any form of processed foods at all, especially that powdered stuff. But I did check their website Ambronite and they claimed that they only use whole foods, no additives or any weird stuff. Just 100% natural plants, nuts and fruits, many of them from Scandinavia. Ambronite is Finland-based by the way.
So I decided to give it a go, see what it was all about and I received a package within a week.

After that I contacted Matt, the Weekend Woodsman, since I'd be visiting him and asked if he was interested in joining me, while testing it. He agreed and so part of the package followed me into Finland woods.

So we did try it.
How did we like it? Mmm.... we were quite unanimous that it was not the best processed food we had ever tried. Far from, actually. But before I tell you why, I'll start at the beginning.

About a week and a half before I would leave for Finland I received a package from Finland. Upon opening that I found this; neatly packed, very professional looking. No screaming ads, just a no nonsense sturdy box and pleasing color.
The contents; one box with 10 sachets/meals, a large, sturdy plastic shaker with drinking opening and a sturdy, almost cardlike sheet of  printed, glossy paper with a lot of info on minerals, vitamins and energy breakdown. The backside of the sachets also shows much of that information, including a very simple, but effective diagram on how to use the product. One sachet is claimed to hold 500 calories.

Now to the field test. As I said we did a double test. Matt kept to the "recipe", adding 550ml of water, but since I did not bring the shaker, he had to stir it. That was not that easy, since the power builds clumps in the water. He managed after about 5 minutes.
I used a standard  issue, 750ml military canteen. Many out there use those, so that might be a good reference. So I poured the contents into the canteen, added water to fill it and shook it. No problems here at all.
The color of the "meal" was a non appealing olive green. It reminded us of the backpacks and such we use. The consistency looked and felt a bit course and we unanimously dubbed it "liquid canvas".

Upon opening the sachets a vague, but distinct odor became apparent. It reminded us of those pet rabbit food pellets, which is not a real surprise if you take the ingredients used into account. The first sips were no culinary highlight, but after the initial threshold it is not as bad anymore. The taste is very hard to describe. It tastes a bit like it smells, with a distinct hint of oats. I also thought I recognised the spinach and spirulina.
After I had finished a little over half my canteen I couldn't take anymore. Feeling full is not the best description. Having a lump in my stomach comes close. Matt wouldn't budge and was determined to have the whole lot. He added squashed banana to it to make it more palatable. Adding the equivalent of 2 bananas to 1 sachet made it acceptable, according to him.
After that we went for a hike through the woods, to see if we would indeed feel fed and energised. We were full yes, but not in a pleasant way as I previously described. We kept burping all the time and that lasted into the evening. I brought my partially filled canteen with the thought of finishing it during the hike, but the very thought of drinking it became revolting. The canteen did not leave my pack.
We did feel an appetite for something real coming up after 2-3 hrs.

Did Ambronite live up to the promises they make at their homepage, like "ready to upgrade your life?" and "taking the hunger away for 4-5 hrs, reaching optimal productivity in 2 minutes"?
No. Not with us.
But in all fairness neither Matt nor I use or are used to products like this. No (freeze)dried, powdered or other quick fixes in a bag. Matt does occasionally use ready meals in cans. I do not.
Will I use it? If my life depended in it, yes. In any other case a definite no.
Matt kept 2 bags for emergency cases and that is what this product would be to both of us; an emergency food only. Emergency as in nothing-to-eat-starving or as an extra boost to an already existing meal or soup.... maybe.

Would I recommend it?
Well.... guess....
And at €89 for a set of 10 meals.... For that kind of cash I can put together more and much more satisfying meals with whole foods. I'll just have to lug the (lot of) extra weight, since 1 sachet weighs only 120grs. A regular meal would easily be 3-4 times that, preparation weight (pots, pans, fuel) not included.

I can see there might be a market for it and looking at their webpage it is not so much the active outdoor community they seem to be targeting, but more the busy citydweller. I really do applaud Ambronite's effort for creating and marketing a "healthy" version of processed ultralight (hike)foods, but I feel that they tried to compromise on too many things; vegan, healthy, nutritious, (too) easy to use, lightweight and to me important things like taste or appeal got pushed too far into the background.

Many thanks to Valerie and the Ambronite-team for providing me with the product.


  1. Good honest review Ron - which is a rarity on many blogs when provided with a free review product. Great to have honest feedback!

    1. What is the purpose of doing a review if not one's own, honest opinion?
      If you polish it all up, no one wins. The manufacturer gets fooled and may loose customers, since he can not enhance the product, the consumer gets fooled, because they spend their hard earned cash and not get what they want and the reviewer loses credibility.
      I like to turn things the other way around.