So, the real problem is that these types of products are having a problem finding a market. People are extremely skeptical and averse to the idea, and for good reasons (I use the product, but I also know there’s a risk).
But because of this situation we had a side effect where a large portion of customers are coming directly from a group of people that is already familiar with the idea of “protein shakes”. Because the leap from protein shakes to “complete meals” is a short one.
This had the direct consequence of having an overall large portion of your customers demanding on average a lot more protein than usual (because, again, they were protein shake users, and want your product to replace a protein shake). Of course, when you HALVE the protein amount from one iteration to the next you also have to expect some (substantial) backlash.
Yet we also know why it happened. You removed all source of protein outside of oats and soy flour. Removing a variety of ingredients isn’t exactly ideal (and I think it isn’t ideal relying on soy flour either), but we KNOW, again, why this was done. It’s because you said those protein sources weren’t “smooth” and we also know that people have to rely on taste and feeling, with a food product, so the first aspect to improve, that people asked, was about making it smoother. And the new recipe is an attempt to square the circle when you factor all these aspects along with the costs and everything else.
The first real issue we have here is about “ideology”. Ideal nutrition going against ideal taste and feel. The need to make the product smoother in the mouth led to worse quality of nutrition overall. This specific aspect isn’t fundamental, but it will come up again even in the hypothesis we find a “better recipe”. What if the better recipe isn’t as smooth?
Let’s put that aside, and discuss nutrition instead (but knowing that there are always repercussions).
The problem with the new recipe isn’t about protein, despite you personally have a problem with the protein as a company because of higher demands due to what I explained above.
With a neutral approach to the recipe the bigger issues aren’t with protein, but with the low quality and abundance of those carbs. This is the real problem and the reason why the new recipe is worse compared to the old one.
The old recipe had a few general issues. Too much protein, too low fats, high carbs, and too much reliance of low quality carbs due to the amount of maltodextrin. And a few things that could be tweaked about the ratio of the micros.
The new recipe kneejerked with the protein (for smoothness and cost), going from too high to just “fine”. Increased a little bit the fats, but not in a way that is incisive. And relied as much as before, and then MORE, on low quality carbs.
I’m also wary of trusting that maltodextrin wasn’t increased. Even then, maltodextrin was already a problem that needed to be addressed in the old recipe.
The labels say that carbs went from 47g/100g of the old recipe, to 54g/100g, it’s a small increase. But it’s about increasing a problem that needed to be addressed.
We have 260g carbs for 2000 calories. That means roughly, if we trust the vague claims we got, that each bag contains 130-140g of maltodextrin. That means that roughly 30% of a whole bag is just maltodextrin. And if we consider that maltodextrin can behave a whole lot like sugar then it’s obvious that this cannot really be good nutrition.
So, before we look at protein I think the main issue is knowing how to improve those problems with carbs. We can see that other companies, including Soylent, mitigate the maltodextrin by replacing half of it with isomaltulose. I’m doubtful about this “fix”. There’s the side effect of sugars showing on the label, higher costs of the ingredient, and we don’t really know if isomaltulose is really better or worse, even if it “should” be better (it might also lead to fructose malabsorption).
Imho, neither maltodextrin nor isomaltulose seem good solutions. We ideally need complex, slow carbs that aren’t refined. Whether “smooth” or not.
In general, the more carbs are closer to 200g, the better. So, even without adding isomaltulose, a good idea would be to remove some of that maltodextrin, with the goal of removing it entirely (or close to). This means we have two other macros to work with, if the goal is to dial back carbs.
Protein is much easier to deal with, and the reason why the current “fad” is about boosting the protein amount to crazy levels. Imho, 90/100g is the limit a product shouldn’t break, in order to stay within the guidelines. That would be a small increase that would allow to remove some of those carbs.
But obviously it’s not enough, and so you have to go to fats. Fats aren’t as simple to deal with, but here is where the attention should go.
the main issue of the new recipe isn’t protein, but the high amount and low quality of carbs. Carbs need to be reduced overall, maltodextrin should be abandoned. To achieve this you likely should maximize protein, but not beyond 100g. And the rest has to be built from good fats and better carbs.
Suggestions to do that? Remove maltodextrin as much as possible by, increasing oats some more, entirely replacing soy flour with soy protein isolate, up to 95g. Then boost some more fats through flaxseed oil, and/or canola oil or algal oil.
Those are the steps for better nutrition, it’s up to you to square the circle by making it match with costs and “smoothness”.