Sustainable Plant-Based Living with Oatly!
The global food system is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a huge deal, and our partners at Oatly are leading the charge against climate change by innovating with plant-based alternatives, dropping emissions, and promoting healthy living with delicious oat milks, creamers, ice creams, and so much more. We sat with their thought leaders to break down goals, climate impact, and sweet treats. We’re partial to the ice cream. Alright, let’s dive in!
Oatly – brand or movement? Give us a quick rundown of who Oatly is, what you make, and what the brand stands for.
Both! We’re the global leader in oat-based foods and aim to transform the food system into one that is healthier for people and the planet. Exclusively using oats, we’re able to make great-tasting oat milks, frozen desserts, soft serve, Oatgurts, and other delicious, nutritious, and allergen-friendly foods with the same creamy taste, frothy feel, and functionality as cow’s milk but with substantially fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Oatly is an easy choice for people who want to upgrade their lives and protect the planet without sacrificing taste or experience.
How was Oatly started?
In the late 1980s, a research group at Lund University in Sweden, including Oatly founder, Rickard Öste, set out to create a plant-based, nutritious and delicious drink with qualities similar to cow’s milk for people who were intolerant to traditional dairy. By 1990, Rickard and his team patented the process, which resulted in a milk alternative perfectly adapted for human consumption using oats – aka oat milk. The parent company was established in 1994, and the rest is history!
Your sustainability platform is robust. Can you give a brief overview of some of the big projects you’re supporting?
We have big ambitions! We aim to drive a systemic shift in society—in the ways people eat, food is produced, and the planet is treated—where people can make small changes, like switching to plant-based foods, that improve their lives and ensure a healthy planet for future generations. These small actions can be multiplied to create a plant-based movement.
We have three pillars that make up our sustainability ambitions we’re working toward achieving globally by 2029. These include: driving a food system shift, setting the example as a future company, and empowering a plant-based revolution.
One of our recent achievements we’re excited about is the transition of our North American factories to 100% renewable electricity.
You can find our full list of commitments, which are continuously being worked against, here.
How was the brand’s passion for sustainability born, and why is plant-based your main focus?
The global food system is responsible for about a third of global emissions (UN); about 50% of those emissions come from the livestock and animal agriculture industries. The greatest impact we can have as a company is to convert dairy users into Oatly consumers, empowering the plant-based revolution. Food is delicious, it’s personal, and it’s something tangible that people make choices about every single day. We want to set an example for how food companies (and all companies) should act to benefit the planet and people. We’re working to prove that change is possible and that it’s good business to center around what’s best for the planet and humans.
How does plant-based living benefit people and the planet?
For our products, in particular, oats can grow around the world, require less land and fewer resources to cultivate than livestock, and are great for soil health. With oats being our core ingredient, we’re able to produce dairy alternatives that emit significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than cow’s milk. From a nutritional standpoint, our oat milks have an excellent combination of macronutrients, including fats, carbs, protein, and fibers, and are allergen friendly. Oatly is a plant-based, nutritious and delicious drink with qualities similar to cow’s milk for people who are intolerant to traditional dairy, which, as it turns out, is a significant portion of the population.
What’s the future of the plant-based movement?
It continues to grow! We’re incredibly excited that Oatly continues to grow significantly year over year, proving a growing shift in consumer habits and tastes. Consumers are increasingly more aware of the impact their choices can have on the planet and are also looking for more suitable products for their nutritional needs. We feel we have products that are a win-win for both, and we see no signs of slowing down.
How is that reflected in your marketing and packaging as a brand with an opinion?
We’re a fearless brand. That means that we don’t always do what other brands would traditionally do, especially when it comes to marketing. We’re a creative-led brand with no traditional marketing team, and we focus on talking to consumers like real humans. We’re honest yet irreverent, so it keeps consumers on their toes. You’ll never know what to expect next from Oatly.
What are some of your team’s favorite Oatly products?
How could you possibly make us choose? We love all our products equally, but a company and fan-favorite continue to be our Chocolate Oatmilk, especially in the convenient 11oz size when you need an on-to-go indulgence. It’s out-of-this-world delicious.
What are you most excited about in Oatly’s sustainability vision?
Again, hard to choose just one thing. Many of the sustainability initiatives our team is working on ladder up to one of our main ambitions: to reduce our carbon footprint per liter of Oatly produced by 70% by 2029 and align that ambition with a 1.5-degree °C climate pathway. The 1.5 °C target is the goal of the Paris Agreement, which calls for countries to take concerted climate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming.
In five words or less, what advice would you give someone wanting to lead a more sustainable life?
Realize the impact of your consumption choices. We stretched to seven words!
Final thoughts. Anything you want to leave with our readers?
If you haven’t yet, try plant-based. At least give it a shot. Consider the impact that animal-based products have on the future of our planet. If our Oatly non-frozen desserts don’t convince you there are great non-dairy alternatives out there, then I guess we have even more work to do!
To get Oatly and other plant-based, sustainable favorites in your breakroom, click here to get started!