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How did OATSIDE become one of Asia’s fastest growing oat milk companies? CEO & creator Benedict Lim talks to Green Queen’s Sonalie Figueiras about why malty milk matters and more.
In less than two years, self-described ‘full-stack’ oat milk brand OATSIDE has become a force to be reckoned with on supermarket shelves in over 8 Asian markets including Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. As of earlier this month, they have launched in Hong Kong. The company’s strength is down to its uber creamy and malty product, a robust regional supply chain (oats from Australia, coconut sugar and cacao from Indonesia) and full control over their oat extraction (the company owns its production facility). We met with CEO and creator Benedict Lim during his Hong Kong visit. Below he tells us more about their unique branding, how the company scaled so fast and why Asia needs another oat milk.
Q: What are the key markets for OATSIDE? Do you want to focus on APAC or also eventually go to the US and EU?
Benedict Lim: We feel we have a better understanding of the palates and culture in Asia and it’s where we’re currently focused! That said, we wouldn’t close off the possibility of expanding outside of Asia in the future.
Q: What has enabled you to scale so fast?
Benedict Lim: The strongest factor has to be the taste of our product – there’s something about the creamy maltiness of OATSIDE that is very familiar to people growing up in this region and that builds a connection and joy that people want to share with others.
Q: Can you share more about your unique branding?
Benedict Lim: OATSIDE as a brand is optimistic, adult and as-is. The artwork was a way to convey our brand world – the OATSIDE of life; the bright side of life told in all its unfiltered, modern glory. The packs’ artwork are cartoons and yet have a feel and tone that speaks to adults, which is our intention.
Q: Why do we need another oat milk brand? What’s the real mission here?
Benedict Lim: We want to be the plant milk for people who don’t care for plant milks – to lead the movement to sustainable milk through incredible taste. Within plant milks – and oat milks in particular – there is a wide variance in textures, tastes and there has to be a varied offering across brands to achieve this shared mission globally.
Q: Why do most Asian consumers buy oat milk, in your view? What’s their motivation?
Benedict Lim: Oat milk is still a very new category in Asia, but oats are a familiar ingredient in most parts. It’s ultimately about taste/texture familiarity!
Q: Where is OATSIDE produced? Can you share more about your supply chain?
Benedict Lim: OATSIDE is produced in Bandung, a beautiful mountainous region of West Java, Indonesia, where we get access to clean mountain spring water for our production.
Q: How do you achieve the sweetness in the ‘no added sugar’ Barista blend?
Benedict Lim: Indeed there is no added sugar in OATSIDE’s Barista Blend – there are some natural sugars from oats that are created through the enzymatic process of oat extraction.
Q: OATSIDE ingredients include canola oil? Do you feel this is a healthy choice given it is linked to certain issues?
Benedict Lim: When thinking about a source of vegetable fat, canola was particularly appealing given it is an unsaturated fat and has a neutral taste profile. We use non-GMO canola with sourced in Australia.
Q: Are you being affected by existing supply chain difficulties?
Benedict Lim: Over the past months, we’ve had to face some port congestion in various countries and limited vessel availability but our supply chain team has managed to mitigate these issues with good planning.
Q: Are you raising capital at the moment?
Benedict Lim: No, we are not raising capital at this moment.
Lead image by Green Queen with photos courtesy OATSIDE.