Blue Farm, a Berlin-based food tech, has set its sights on stirring up the oat milk market with its even more sustainable product. Its first product, an Oat Base, allows consumers and foodservice to mix their own oat milk right before they consume it, cutting out extra packaging and the carbon emissions from transporting heavy liquid-filled cartons or bottles for miles.
Oat milk is big business. Sales of the plant-based dairy alternative have risen an eye-popping 294% in enhanced retail channels and 345% in mainstream retailers over the past year, and has the E.U. Smart Protein Project revealed that it has become the fastest-growing category of products across Europe.
Dominating the category is Oatly, the Swedish food tech that is reportedly seeking a US$10 billion valuation in its U.S. IPO on the heels recording triple-digit growth rates in three consecutive years. The success of oat milk has attracted big names joining the competition, including the world’s largest drink company Coca-Cola, and legacy American plant-based brand Dream, who under SunOpta’s new leadership will be aggressively expanding oat-based innovation.
German startup Blue Farms is now the latest to join the competition, but it’s providing quite a different product. Standing out from the crowd, the young food tech’s oat milk comes not in cartons, carafés or bottles, but in a flexible package.
We feel that plant-based milk should not be sold like [how] cow’s milk needs to be sold in a milk carton.Katia Helf, Co-Founder, Blue Farm
Their product, Oat Base, is powdered. Landing on the market earlier in January this year in several zero-waste stores in Berlin, the product is designed for the user to mix their own oat milk beverage themselves. The entire point of this is to make oat milk – which is already more sustainable than other plant-based milks and far more carbon-friendly than dairy milk – have an even lighter footprint on the environment.
“Blue Farm is the first direct-to-consumer vegan dairy brand that simply arrives in your home in the mailbox. We feel that plant-based milk should not be sold like [how] cow’s milk needs to be sold in a milk carton,” said co-founder Katia Helf, in a German press statement that has been translated to English. Helf started the company with Philip von Have in 2019.
This means cutting out packaging waste and transport emissions that most oat milk brands are generating because they are shipping large and heavy cartons or bottles filled with liquid. Instead, Blue Farm’s oat powder is small, light and takes just minutes for the consumer to add water and shake up a “fresh and creamy” oat milk.
Each 375-gram package of their oat powder can make around 4 litres of the beverage, while its 755-gram packet makes around 8 litres. The package itself is made from recycled plastic that hasn’t been blended with other materials, making it 100% recyclable.
The shelf-stable product additionally tackles the issue of food waste, because consumers can control how much they want to consume and mix it fresh, eliminating the problem of expiration when it comes to liquid beverages that require refrigeration after opening, and have an expiry date.
Products that are good for the people and even better for the planet are now reaching the mainstream. We want to be a driving force of this movement with smart products.Philip von Have, Co-Founder, Blue Farm
Blue Farm says that its Oat Base is also nutritionally superior, mostly because of what it doesn’t contain, rather than what it does. Instead of having a long ingredient list with binders, gums, fillers, stabilisers or preservatives, their product contains just oats and a “tiny amount of salt” for flavour.
“The fermented oat extract is joined by just a hint of salt to lift the flavour,” explained the company in the translated press statement. “Those who like the drink sweeter, creamier or lighter, simply tailor the recipe or dosage individually.”
Co-founder von Have believes that their Oat Base will differentiate their brand from the increasingly competitive plant-based space, and will resonate with consumers who are scrutinising the health and sustainability claims of products more than ever before.
“Products that are good for the people and even better for the planet are now reaching the mainstream. We want to be a driving force of this movement with smart products.”
Looking ahead, Blue Farm told FoodNavigator in an interview that they plan to expand their presence to launch Oat Base on several online retailers, as well as foodservice businesses, such as cafés, which present a huge opportunity in terms of saving product storage space.
They are also planning on raising investment later this year, which will fuel the growth of its product range and entry into international markets, starting in Europe.
All images courtesy of Blue Farm.