Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
13 Oct

Primal Fuel Updates for Inquiring Minds

There was quite a response to the Primal Fuel release on Monday. Numerous early adopters were quick to order a canister or two of Primal Fuel. Others were vocal about what they thought was wrong with the product (for some it appeared that the sky was falling!), most notably that it was out of their price range. I’d like to respond to some of the feedback and make a few announcements you might be interested in learning.

First of all, I did in fact design this in response to the hundreds of people who have been requesting a convenient, delicious Primal-approved drink. While many consider me to be the “guardian” of the Primal lifestyle, I am and have always been intent on finding ways to honor our Primal genes in the context of a realistic, comfortable, pleasurable 21st century lifestyle. This is simply another tool to use as part of a Primal lifestyle for those who want one. Not everyone needs or wants such a tool, but I did, so I designed it with me, my family and my friends in mind.

The $99 price point certainly ruffled a few feathers. I note that people have been commenting, “Well, it’s just whey and coconut milk. You can make your own for much less.” Sure you can. I did it for years, but I could never get the flavor exactly the way I wanted or the soluble prebiotic fibers to provide the right mouth-feel and/or not cause gas. And I always had to be near a blender; otherwise I couldn’t get the ingredients to mix well. This isn’t like some protein powder you choke down or have to mix with milk or juice. Primal Fuel tastes exceptionally good when shaken and mixed with plain water. And for some people (Atkins or other non-Primal low-carb dieters), this might be the healthiest thing they consume all day. It is also intended to be convenient, so anyone on the run or on the go can put a few scoops of dry Primal Fuel in a blender bottle and take it with them for later use (and just add water).

But yes, it’s not cheap. Of course, neither are the bulk ingredients (more than just whey and coconut, BTW!), the lab testing of every batch, the labor, packaging, the cost of shipping and doing business and everything else involved in bringing a top-shelf meal replacement to market. At the end of the day, Primal Fuel needs to be priced competitively, so what gives?

While this is somewhat unorthodox, I think it’s important that the facts are made clear and you understand how I originally arrived at the $99 price point.

The product is made in an ISO 9001 GMP-certified manufacturing facility. Raw materials are required to have a certificate of assay when delivered and are still tested for microbial or heavy metals before they are released to manufacturing. The product is tested again before I can sell it. The ingredients are all the best of the best. The flavoring and sweetening systems were intended to assist people in weaning themselves off the typical cravings for sweet drinks and represent a unique combination of some very expensive ingredients – no cheap, artificial sweeteners in sight. Ultimately, the retail price has to be based on the cost-to-manufacture, which I do with all my products. This costs a lot to make.

The price point also compares favorably to other products I have seen in the marketplace, most notably Shakeology® which sells for $119 for 30 servings and offers 17 grams of protein per serving. Primal Fuel offers 20 grams of protein, healthy fats and far fewer carbs. I think it tastes better, too.

I came to the final price point of $99 based on a few other factors:

  1. It was designed to be an autoship-based product; hence the larger tub size and 30-servings designed to last a month. I could have introduced a smaller container and fewer servings for under $50, but shipping is expensive and I pay for shipping on all my autoship products. For this product (which weighs over 3 lbs when shipped) the cost of USPS Priority shipping averages around $12.
  2. I believe maintaining gut health is critical for good health, so I designed Primal Fuel to work synergistically with Primal Flora. The prebiotics in the Fuel coupled with the probiotic blend in the Flora can help support a healthy digestive tract. A full bottle of Primal Flora (retail value – $26.95) shipped each month was built into the $99 autoship price tag. The early feedback I have received suggests that you guys are more interested in a reduced price on Primal Fuel than receiving a discount on Primal Flora when purchasing the product. It appears the value of the Primal Flora is not fully appreciated. This doesn’t fall on deaf ears. See what I have in mind below.
  3. Autoship customers also get a free Blender Bottle (retail value – $8.95).

That’s nearly $40-50 in value built into the total price of Primal Fuel when purchased on autoship.

I believe firmly that Primal Fuel is the best meal replacement on the market and that many people are going to benefit from using it – myself included. But I have heard your thoughts loud and clear, so here is what I’m going to do going forward.

  1. As I said, the autoship price of $99 was set to cover the cost of the Primal Fuel, Primal Flora (retail value – $26.95), the cost of shipping and handling, and the cost of the Blender Bottle. Primal Flora and Primal Fuel are a match made in heaven, but I understand that you would prefer a price cut to getting the Primal Flora and Blender Bottle included in the total, so I will be removing both from the original offer and pricing Primal Fuel accordingly, at $79/canister if you go on autoship. And I’ll still pay the S&H. A single canister order will remain at the $99 price point (but see #5 below).
  2. Since I strongly believe that many can benefit from taking Primal Fuel and Flora together, if you purchase Primal Fuel you can still add Primal Flora to your order for only $13.50. The shopping cart will take care of the special pricing if you want to take advantage of that.
  3. Many have expressed an interest in being able to try Primal Fuel on for size before committing to purchasing a full canister. I offer a 100% no-risk, 30-day, money-back guarantee on the Primal Fuel, but if you’d prefer to receive a single-serving sample of each flavor in the mail I will ship them to you at less than cost, just $5.95. This offer is only available to domestic orders. Call 888-774-6259 and my team will get a sample of each flavor in the mail to you. This offer probably won’t last indefinitely.
  4. Also, many have expressed an interest in Primal Fuel being available in a smaller size. In the next 90 days I hope to have a 15-serving version of Primal Fuel available at half the cost of the 30-serving size version.
  5. Because this product was created for you, because I believe that it will do many of you good and that you’ll love it, and because I’m sensitive to some of your concerns over the price, I’ll be sending every newsletter subscriber a $20 coupon code that can be used on the purchase of a single canister of Primal Fuel. (This coupon code isn’t valid for Primal Fuel autoship orders.) Keep your eyes peeled.
  6. This was a small initial production run. In the event I can get the cost of manufacturing down further. I will pass the savings along to you.

Everyone that has already purchased Primal Fuel on autoship will get Primal Fuel at the new price in addition to receiving the Primal Flora, the Blender Bottle and the free shipping and handling they were promised at checkout. Everyone that purchased a single canister will be billed as if they had used the $20 coupon.

This is my attempt to respond to your feedback and make Primal Fuel available to a broader audience. I hope you’ll give it a try and see what you think.

Learn more about Primal Fuel here.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Mark, you are truly a class act. I already get some of the supplements. All are excellent products – no fishy burps! I’m not going to autoship the Primal Fuel, but I am going to invest in a canister to split with my law school daughter who has a tough time getting in proper paleo meals all day long, especially breakfast.

    Laurie D. wrote on October 13th, 2010
  2. I’m another reader who questioned the original pricing of Primal Fuel. Kudos to you, Mark, for responding to the comments in such a positive and considerate way. While it’s still outside of my budget right now, I may give PF a try in the future.

    Caroline wrote on October 13th, 2010
  3. Simply put, you rock, Mark.

    Shebeeste wrote on October 13th, 2010
  4. Wow, you’re an awesome businessman. Good stuff. I think I may just buy some now, I’m just that impressed in your honesty and your response.

    Kevin wrote on October 13th, 2010
  5. You are a terrific businessman.

    Samantha Moore wrote on October 13th, 2010
  6. Now all you need to do is make protein bars! With lots of FAT!!!

    andy wrote on October 13th, 2010
  7. Hey Mark,

    Sounds like a great product, would you recommend it as a post workout as well as a meal replacement?

    Randy wrote on October 13th, 2010
  8. Wow, what a change two days makes. From “vitriol” as some people were using to describe the scornful comments on Monday to gratitude, appreciation and praise on Wednesday. Primal lesson from all this – it is human nature to tunnel towards polar extremes, then completely renege the next moment. Boy we are a flighty bunch. I still don’t know what to think about this whole primal shake thing.

    Michael wrote on October 13th, 2010
  9. Mark,

    Can you please include a list of all the ingredients? All I see is the nutritional info with no full ingredient list. I currently use Shakeology which seems to have an exotic ingredient mix. And you saying it tastes better is BOLD, because Shakeology is the best tasting meal replacement, protein, shake, anything, that I have ever had. Much Thanks

    Chris wrote on October 13th, 2010
  10. Mark,
    I’ve always been impressed that you sold almost nothing on this site. It’s been give, give, give. Eat real food and get some exercise. You’re on a mission to help people get and stay healthy.
    So I’m not worried about your selling a drink. I want you to make a living.
    Buying Omega 3 for most of us is a big deal and it’s not your Vital Omega’s.
    My question is do we have to have money to be at our healthiest? Does it bother you that most people can’t afford your products?
    Dana Law
    El Cajon, Ca

    Dana Law wrote on October 13th, 2010
    • Why should it bother him? Most people can’t afford organic grass-fed meat and dairy and organic vegetables; that’s not going to stop him from encouraging people to eat them. These foodstuffs are more expensive because they cost more money to grow/produce/husband. Just as Mark’s fuel is more expensive because the ingredients and process to create it are more expensive than your usual whey protein. Do you understand that you have to have money to be healthy because you have to have money to buy food? This is a pretty simple lesson to learn.

      zoltan wrote on October 15th, 2010
  11. nice! thanks.
    the price tag albeit high is ok with me as i can’t find anything that does NOT contain soy lecithin & this one has enough saturated fat.

    i normally don’t drink this type of drinks or shakes (i just don’t drink cold & sweet stuff — i prefer hot & warm & unsweetened). but maybe they can make great gifts for my family.

    PHK wrote on October 13th, 2010
  12. I’m also one of those who would like a shake that is less sweet. Being off of sugar for so long has taken my sweet tooth down a few notches……just don’t enjoy that sugary taste so much anymore……love vanilla and chocolate flavors though.

    Karla wrote on October 14th, 2010
    • I designed it to not be overly-sweet. Using cocoa and vanilla bean with just a touch of sugar and no artificial sweeteners accomplishes this. The feedback from the dozens of people that tasted-tasted PF has been that it achieves a nice balance.

      Mark Sisson wrote on October 14th, 2010
  13. I’m pretty excited to try this out! i’ve been trying to fanagle my budget to fit it in and your generous offer to give out that coupon is really helping me out. I’m very new to this way of life, but the benefits for me are amazing. I was going to try this as a breakfast alternative, because I wake up hungry but always late for work. this way I’ll be a happier morning person. Thanks so much! Also, I agree that you faced the really harsh criticism very well. As someone who works in retail who is not allowed to discuss with customers why something is the way it is I am happy to find a business that is so forward. Keep up the fantastic work!

    Tori Kean wrote on October 14th, 2010
  14. Oh, my goodness…the Walmart mentality! You are all the same people who spend $5 on a foo-foo coffee drink. I once worked in retail…once for a sporting goods store…and people would ask why one inline skate was so much more expensive than the others…and the answer was always…QUALITY OF THE COMPONENTS! Mark has designed a great product at a good price, should leave it as is, AND offer the new ones as well…I would have used it, but am dairy intolerant. Keep up the good work, Mark, thanks for at least listening to your customers…most companies don’t. TaTa.
    The skater.

    Cj wrote on October 14th, 2010
    • Basic economics are not well understood by the general population.

      zoltan wrote on October 15th, 2010
      • *is

        unless I’m using the 18th-century meaning of the word

        zoltan wrote on October 15th, 2010
  15. Jeez, no wonder some politicians get elected; the knowledge of basic economics of most commenters are sub-par. Bringing a food product to market is expensive as he11 even if one uses cheap ingredients. Using high-quality ingredients will send the production costs into the stratosphere. I am of course ignorant of Sisson’s costs but I’d be willing to bet his profit margin is less than the margins of other protein-shake products.

    The worst part of the more negative comments are the shameful assumptions and the ad hominem attacks. I’ve been reading Sisson’s stuff for almost two years and I do not detect even a whiff of conman. If you don’t like the price then don’t pay it but for crying out loud, quit acting like Sisson stole your lollipop.

    Phocion Timon wrote on October 14th, 2010
    • Ffs, this is basically whey with coconut. Not “the ultimate low-carb meal replacement”. You can get excellent quality whey much much cheaper than this and then add some coconut, olive oil etc, cocoa, spice etc.

      The worst part of this is all these attacks on “negative comments” with strawman arguments.

      Off course people don’t have to buy it, but people deserve to know the truth, which is that this is just whey with coconut.

      Mikkel wrote on October 14th, 2010
      • PF is more than whey with coconut. Yes, you can make your own concoction however I don’t know about you, but I don’t travel around or go into business meetings/seminars carrying a supply of coconut, olive oil, cocoa, spices, etc. in case I need a better meal replacement than the carbage offered. :)

        mizski wrote on October 14th, 2010
        • Well, you’d still have to carry around a 1300 gram bucket of PF and/or a shaker to mix it in either way, so …

          Mikkel wrote on October 14th, 2010
  16. Do you have a version without coconut? I don’t like the flavor and my wife and I tried to make pancakes with coconut flour and I ended up feeling lightheaded and got a headache from it.

    Danny wrote on October 14th, 2010
  17. Mark, you’ve so quickly addressed people’s concerns so well! Thank you! :)

    gilliebean wrote on October 14th, 2010
  18. Supply and demand, competition, and target audience.

    This is obviously being positioned as a high-end product. The price point is about right.

    Mark knows exactly how many units he needs to sell at that price to keep the product on the market.

    The question is are there enough people in the MDA community to buy and sustain it? Is he providing a product that reflects the values and resources of his existing and potential customers.

    We’ll see. Launching a product always requires some trial and error, and you have to start somewhere!

    Steve-O wrote on October 14th, 2010
  19. Wow! I just went a looked at Primal Fuel when it was released, but yes, the price was too much for me, and I dont really do shakes that often. However, I am in search of a new fave protein powder, and was really excited about PF. I was not UPSET at the price, because I know the ingredients are expensive, I just figured I’d have to wait.

    I will definitely be purchasing some now, when I’m out of what I currently have on hand, simply because you have handled this with such class.

    I admire your ability to listen and care about what your community has to say.

    I wish you much success now and in the future.

    lisser wrote on October 14th, 2010
  20. Class act!

    Nico B. wrote on October 14th, 2010
  21. Another thing to keep in mind (which I don’t think has been mentioned yet) is that Mark still needs to have a profit margin on this product. As good as a guy he seems to be (don’t personally know him), I doubt he’s in this to lose money. I can totally see how this product is not cheap to manufacture. Unfortunately, good high-quality ingredients are not cheap, only the crappy mass-produced one’s are.

    Ray wrote on October 14th, 2010
  22. Does anyone have feedback on how long this shake holds down your hunger? Most of the protein shakes I’ve used in the past only last 1-2 hours before I’m feeling hungry again. Thanks!

    Ray wrote on October 14th, 2010
    • Reports vary and depend on body weight, but on average people are reporting 2-3 hours or more. I find that if I drink a single serving mid-afternoon that I either eat a smaller dinner, a later dinner, or no dinner at all. Hope that helps.

      Mark Sisson wrote on October 14th, 2010
  23. Outstanding response – I’m impressed.

    SLOJES wrote on October 14th, 2010
  24. Thanks Mark!

    Ray wrote on October 14th, 2010
  25. THANKS Mark. I ordered some samples, to try before I buy. Really appreciate it.

    tara tootie wrote on October 14th, 2010
  26. Ok, can’t keep my mouth shut on this one…

    Let’s see: Mark has built a company, that offers FREE informative and fun articles every day; he (and his worker bees) keep the web site running for FREE; they keep the forums up for FREE; they organize and execute 30 days of FREE giveaways for FREE (which must have been a huge amount of effort); etc. etc. etc.

    His efforts, which we get for FREE, have helped thousands of people, including me, greatly improve our health and lifestyles. For FREE (if I may repeat myself).

    And people are upset that he offers a product that he might make a profit on?? Mark (or anyone else) doesn’t OWE us all these services. And I’d guess, like 99 out of 100 of us, he like to make a living.

    If it’s too expensive for you, then don’t buy it. But to paint what Mark is doing in a negative light, after all the FREE services you’ve probably partaken of (since you are reading this), is hypocritical in my view.

    My view: thanks Mark for all you do. I hope you make a good profit on your products – you, your family, and your worker bees all deserve the rewards of your efforts. And please keep it up: you set a shining example of how businesses should be run.

    John wrote on October 14th, 2010
    • @ “And people are upset that he offers a product that he might make a profit on?? Mark (or anyone else) doesn’t OWE us all these services. And I’d guess, like 99 out of 100 of us, he like to make a living.”

      And we don’t owe mark to buy overpriced products. 99 out of 100 of us probably also like to get value for our money, which is why is legitimate to point out that this is essentially whey, which can be bought much cheaper.

      The free information is the price Mark pays for building an audience (and mailing list), so he can push his products (and since he’s still continuing it must be worth it). So please stop pretending that people who read the site and argue against this product is somehow doing something bad.

      Btw, I already bought the book (as did a lot of other people), so please drop the leeching-off-poor-mark-whining.

      Mikkel wrote on October 14th, 2010
      • Well Louis Vuitton bags are also essentially cloth and/or leather but they cost shit loads of money and no-one moans thay they are just pieces of leather. You don’t have to buy it if you don’t like/afford it. That’s is free market for you….

        primecut wrote on October 14th, 2010
      • A product is only overpriced if there aren’t enough consumers buying it to cover the cost of production and to provide at least marginal profit for the producer. This would force the producer to lower the price to a point where enough units are being sold to cover the cost of production and allow for profit (because producers don’t work for free). You seem to lack a basic grasp of this concept. Mark has never once stated that because the people use this site for free that they owe him money. He advertised a product; that’s not exactly expecting (or feeling owed) site viewers to buy it. If you want to buy low-quality whey then do so; there are plenty of consumers in this market who want a high-fat whey protein powder made with high-quality ingredients that mixes instantly and are willing to pay for it. There are others who are unwilling to pay for it. BFD.

        zoltan wrote on October 15th, 2010
        • Way to go with the strawman.

          I didn’t use overpriced in a technical-economic sense (which I’m sure you already know).

          Regarding “owing” Mark something it was referring to the original poster implying that because Mark provides blogpost for “free”, we shouldn’t criticise this product, so you’re off again.

          And I’m already buying whey which in all probability has a equivalent or higher quality (and way cheaper) than the ingredient offered in PF, so please drop the implication that not buying PF only gives you the alternative of buying low-quality whey.

          To all: Don’t waste your money on this, when you can get a lot more, similar- or higher-quality whey than PF, and then add the fat and flavor of your choice.

          Mikkel wrote on October 16th, 2010
  27. Thanks for offering the sample pack. I couldn’t justify spending that much on a container in case I didn’t like it.

    Michele wrote on October 14th, 2010
  28. Says a lot about you, your product, and what motivates you when you respond this quickly and compassionately to reader/user feedback. Keep up the good work, this has serious potential to change the landscape of the supplement/protein-shake marketplace.

    Joshua wrote on October 14th, 2010
  29. Just a note, Shakology is not a protein shake, or a protein shake replacement/alternative. Thus, the “low protein”.

    It is a “multivitamin” shake. The $$ for shakeology is more understandable for all the ingredients (primal or not, sugar and all).

    Lydaugherty wrote on October 14th, 2010
  30. So I see that Aussies and Poms aren’t the only whingers in the world. Harden up people. If you want it, buy it. Otherwise…

    Mark wrote on October 14th, 2010
  31. Glad to see your response Mark, while I won’t be buying it, you have the balls to back your product in an insightful and honest manner. I can dig that.

    George wrote on October 15th, 2010
  32. Glad to see you’re listening to our concerns. At first the price shocked me too, but the phrase “costs less than an egg mcmuffin value meal” got to me. While I won’t be using enough to go on autoship, I like having this option for those times I need something quick or when I run out of salad supplies before grocery day.

    Laura wrote on October 15th, 2010
  33. Wow, Mark. You know how to get folks talkin! I think I may be beating a dead horse at this point, but I’m very impressed. I think it’s awesome the way that you run your business, Primal Nutrition, hand in hand with this site. You are able to have direct feedback, and address issues HEAD ON. Very noble. Also something that most companies (of any sort) just do not have the ability to do.

    Primal Fuel certainly makes sense to me, but I am already on a budget that works with primal groceries!! Just can’t swing it, though I really don’t think it’s over priced. 30 days of a meal for $100?? Hell I think that could probably save a caveman a buck or two… especially those enjoy some intermittent fasting 😉

    Mlkrone wrote on October 15th, 2010
  34. Thanks Mark! Wow I didnt think it was too overpriced for the quality. I mean, I spend 60$ on gold standard whey which still has artificial sweetners/fillers and a chemically taste. Id spend the extra 30$ on it. Next month ill plan some primal fuel into my budget w/ some primal flora. My stomach needs it!

    Athena wrote on October 15th, 2010
  35. Hi Mark. First of all, thanks for the great website and all the fantastic info you keep coming our way.

    Secondly, I don’t feel you (or ANY business person) should feel obligated to ‘explain’ why you charge what you charge for your goods and/or services. Business is business and profit is not a dirty word.

    All of us make choices about how and where we will or will not spend our dollars. One person’s bargain is out of another person’s reach. One person’s ‘must have’ is another’s ‘frivolous expenditure.

    To expect anyone person or business to produce ANYTHING and sell it at below whatever the market will bear is…..well….socialist. But don’t get me started.

    Once again, thank you for all the VALUE you provide for all of us.

    Deborah Wolfe

    Deborah Wolfe wrote on October 15th, 2010
  36. Mark,

    You don’t owe anyone anything. You are changing people’s lives with all the free information that you provide here.

    NomadicNeill wrote on October 15th, 2010
  37. I got my canister of Dark Chocolate today. It was exactly as advertised. Blended well and tasted good. More coconut flavor than I was expecting but that isn’t a complaint. I’ll probably order a vanilla flavored one now. I’m not sure if I’ll use it every day but it is nice to have on hand when I need something quickly.

    Mark you really are a class act.

    Dave wrote on October 15th, 2010
  38. I am amazed by the reactions at MDA about Primal Fuel. Flabbergasted actually.

    “Whine” is Primal, but only in moderation.

    SerialSinner wrote on October 15th, 2010

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