Oatly, the famous Swedish oat milk maker, has announced plans to open “one of the world’s largest plant-based dairy factories” by 2023. The facility is expected to be able to churn out 300 million litres of its popular oat milk annually when it launches, and will be powered by 100% renewable energy.
Slated to open its doors in early 2023, Oatly says that its new factory, located in Peterborough in the U.K., will be its end-to-end solution to manufacturing 300 million litres of oat milk every single year to supply the British market. The renewable energy-powered facility is expected to bring 200 new jobs to the region and has the potential to grow its capacity to 450 million litres annually, making it one of the largest plant-based dairy factories in the world.
In addition to using only clean energy, Oatly says that the factory will “fit for the future”, committing to decrease 75% of its energy consumption, water usage and waste by 2029 – six years after it starts operating – compared to the company’s 2019 environmental footprint.
“The new factory will continue Oatly’s drive to create a systemic shift in society and the food system towards plant-based,” said the firm in a press statement. “This means plant-based dairy will be more accessible for people to switch to, helping them to reduce their climate impact.”
Questions about a potential U.K. factory have been circulating for a while, and we’re really excited to finally announce the news of its arrival in 2023.Ishen Paran, General Manager, Oatly U.K.
Johan Rabe, chief supply chain officer at Oatly, reiterated that “sustainability is core to our factory planning,” and says that its climate commitment will “still be our top priority” – even as the firm “strive[s] to grow one of the biggest plant-based dairy factories to its full capacity.”
Compared to traditional dairy made from cow’s milk in British farms, the oat-based beverage produced at the factory will have a 70% lower carbon footprint. The oats used in the new facility will also be sourced domestically in the U.K. to support local farmers.
Commenting on its plans, Ishen Paran, general manager at Oatly U.K., said: “Questions about a potential U.K. factory have been circulating for a while, and we’re really excited to finally announce the news of its arrival in 2023.”
Paran added that the British market represents “a really important driver of the global plant-based movement, with a growing demand for Oatly across the country.”
According to market research firm Mintel, the British plant-based market is expected to reach £1.1 billion (US$1.43 billion) within three years, putting the country ahead of neighbouring markets such as Germany, where the plant-based movement has also taken off in a big way.
While the overall plant-based market is exploding, oat milk sales around the world have skyrocketed in particular, with the category surging to become the second most popular of all plant-based milks. Across Europe, oat milk is leading as the fastest-growing category in all countries with the exception of France, where almond milk continues to dominate, according to a recent report published by the E.U.-funded Smart Protein Project.
Oatly’s own sales have seen triple-digit annual growth for three consecutive years, prompting the Blackstone-backed firm to make the ambitious move to file to go public in the U.S., where it is reportedly seeking a value of US$10 billion.
The listing will take place once the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) completes its review process, and so far, there are still no further details on the terms of the planned sale provided by the food tech.
All images courtesy of Oatly.