Canadian investment outfit Eat Beyond has announced its intention to acquire Florida-based Banana Wave, a banana flavored oat milk drink company. The acquisition will enable Banana Wave to expand further and will give Eat Beyond a stronger presence in the plant-based sector.
Launched in 2013, Banana Wave, with its blend of oats and real bananas, was the first plant-based milk of its kind to be released in the US market. Having expanded to include a range of flavours, including chocolate, mango and strawberry, the brand is now looking forward to further growth.
Banana Wave’s CEO Steve Gelerman said of the news: “We are delighted to be able to partner with the Eat Beyond team to help realise the true potential of Banana Wave. We have had tremendous early success in building the brand and with the financial resources and advisory capabilities of Eat Beyond, we intend to make Banana Wave a true market leader.” Subject to regulatory approval and third-party valuation of current owner Mylk Brands, a successful transaction will see Eat Beyond purchasing all remaining Banana Wave shares.
Banana milk innovators
Since being launched to market, Banana Wave has witnessed a number of competitors bringing out fruit-blended dairy-free milk products. Not to be confused with flavoured oat milk, these drinks follow the Banana Wave template of combining real bananas with a plant-based milk base. Mooala and Almond Breeze have both unveiled blended banana almond milks, while Mighty Drinks released its Mighty Shake, which uses an oat base.
A feather in the cap for Banana Wave was being heralded as the “best-tasting alternative milk” by NBC’s Today Show, following a blind taste test on air.
The rise of oat milk drinks
The oat milk sector is one that continues to grow thanks to neutral flavour profiles, versatile use, and a wide variety of incarnations. From barista-specific to flavoured, oat milk has proven globally popular with consumers, leading to a plethora of new brands emerging and close evaluation of the environmental implications of production.
A recent study conducted by Oxford University revealed that dairy milk creates three times the greenhouse gas emissions as any plant-based alternative. Of the rice, soy, almond, and oat drinks assessed, the latter was deemed the most environmentally friendly, when emissions, land, and water use were taken into account.
Despite the eco-credentials of production, oat milk brands are not above falling foul of public favour, as Oatly discovered. With shares falling by 20% following news of lost sales and order delays, competitors have been keen to meet surging demand for oat lines. Major players have entered the field including European alt milk giant Alpro, APAC player Vitasoy, popular vegan brand Califia Farms and smaller players such as UK-based Glebe Farm, who made headlines thanks to a trademark dispute with Oatly.
Flavour on the horizon
Oat milk’s popularity is on a continued upward trajectory with it now being second only to almond in the global plant-milk sector. Reported sales of more than $249 million in 2020 highlight the potential for new and existing brands, with novelty flavours likely to enter the conversation. As an example, Happi Free From announced plans to launch chocolate and strawberry oat drinks earlier this year. The news comes after a successful white chocolate oat milk release.
Eat Beyond CEO, Michael Aucoin is aware of the competitive field his company is moving into but remains optimistic that Banana Wave will prove to be a winning acquisition: “We are delighted to be able to add Banana Wave to Eat Beyond’s roster of portfolio companies. Banana Wave products are truly differentiated in an increasingly competitive dairy alternative category. With truly great flavour and compelling nutritional benefits, we believe the Banana Wave brand is a product on the cusp of greatness.”
Lead image courtesy of Banana Wave.