No Excuses Needed: Singapore’s OATSIDE Unveils Vegan Ice-Cream with 3 Flavours
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Singaporean oat milk maker OATSIDE has unveiled a line of vegan ice creams in the city-state, starting with three flavours. It will host a public sampling event this weekend to promote the new products, which can be found at all major retailers in the country.
A year after securing $65.5M in Series A funding, Singapore’s homegrown oat milk brand OATSIDE has entered the frozen category with a range of three ice creams. The ice creams come in Chocolate, Peanut Butter Cookie Dough and Coffee with Mini Chocolate Chips varieties, and are described as having a creamy texture with the malty base of its oat milk.
The company has also launched an OATSIDE Ice Cream Excuses promotional campaign to go along with the launch. This weekend (November 18 and 19), OATSIDE will host a public tasting event outside the Plaza Singapura shopping mall, where it will sample the new dairy-free ice creams and put up a Wall of Excuses for visitors to write their “best or worst excuses for indulging in ice cream”. The event will be attended by OATSIDE’s bear mascot and track and field athlete Shanti Pereira.
“Plant-based non-dairy ice creams pose a technical challenge and tend to be icy versus their dairy counterparts, but we’ve managed to achieve a rich, creamy non-dairy ice cream using our classic OATSIDE oat milk as the base ingredient,” said OATSIDE founder and CEO Benedict Lim. “Our team has been wiping out pints of OATSIDE ice cream, and we’re struggling to keep the freezers stocked.”
The oat milk ice creams are available at all major retailers in Singapore – including FairPrice, Cold Storage, Redmart and Pandamart – at a steep introductory price of S$12.50 ($9.18) for a 473ml tub. This pricing will continue until January 31. But it could put off consumers, with a 1,000-person poll by Milieu revealing how 49% of Singaporeans who’ve tried plant-based milk but don’t drink it regularly cite cost as one of the top major deterrents.
The oat milk for non-vegans
Described as Asia’s first full-stack oat milk producer, OATSIDE was founded in 2020 by Lim, a former CFO at Kraft Heinz Indonesia. The company – whose oat milk is produced in Bandung, west Java in Indonesia using roasted Australian oats – has gone from strength to strength since. Its alt-milks, which come in Barista, Chocolate and Chocolate Hazelnut variants, are now available in multiple southeast Asian markets, including Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
Like its fellow oat milk maker Oatly, the brand is known for its wacky, self-deprecating humorous marketing. Its ice cream announcement, for example, includes phrases like “nuttier than your aunty’s conspiracy theories, and richer than your ex’s excuse for ghosting you” and “meet the ice cream you didn’t ask for”.
Speaking to Green Queen last year, Lim described the ethos of the brand’s consumer messaging – which is dotted with illustrations and comic-style cartoons – as “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,” he explained.
He added that the company’s mission is to “be the plant milk for people who don’t care for plant milks”, honing in on the taste aspect of the oat milk. This approach has legs, given that a 1,027-person YouGov survey in Singapore last month found that taste is the top factor affecting the food choices of all diets except vegans, who prioritise health and price first.
“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,” noted Lim told Green Queen last year.
Singapore’s growing alt-dairy scene
The launch comes as the global market for vegan ice cream grows and becomes increasingly crowded. According to one estimate, the sector is set to grow by 8.33% annually and reach $1.24B by 2030.
Within Singapore, 30% of consumers are limiting their dairy intake, with 70% actively seeking ways to be more eco-conscious, according to Mintel research. The Milieu poll, meanwhile, revealed that 87% of its citizens have tried a milk alternative, of which 62% consume these products regularly.
The island nation is home to multiple oat milk startups like noomoo, OatMlk and Oatbedient, and has seen an influx of international plant-based milk companies, including Rude Health (UK), Happy Happy Soy Boy (Australia), Otis (New Zealand) and Oatly (Sweden) – in fact, the latter opened a $30M oat milk manufacturing facility with local beverage giant Yeo Hiap Seng in 2021, its first such factory in Asia.
The country’s plant-based ice cream segment is already host to several players, such as Ben & Jerry’s, The Ice Cream and Cookie Co, Magnum and Kind Kones all selling vegan frozen desserts in retail.
Meanwhile, Finnish company Solar Foods introduced a vegan gelato made from air protein earlier this year. Last year, Californian precision fermentation startup Perfect Day launched ice creams made from its animal-free whey through its consumer brand Coolhaus in the Lion City (the US company has since closed down its B2C business and agreed to sell Coolhaus to Superlatus). Now, OATSIDE hopes to stand out from the crowd, as it has done with its oat milk range, which Singaporean baristas began to favour over Swedish pioneer Oatly.
In June, OATSIDE scored a notable win when it entered an agreement with Singapore coffee chain Flash Coffee that saw it become the default oat milk brand in all of the chain’s milk-based beverages. However, Flash Coffee, a VC darling that was meant to be South East Asia’s answer to Starbucks for the digital generation, announced it was shutting down its 11 Singapore and filing for liquidation after being unable to meet its financial liabilities, according to reporting from the Straits Times.
Oatly’s ice cream move came after a new report called for the Asian region to urgently decarbonize its food system. The Asia Food Challenge Report – jointly published by PwC, Rabobank and Temasek report during Singapore’s yearly Agri-Food Innovation Week (SIAW) earlier this month, claims that taking necessary action could help cut the region’s emissions by 12% by 2030, which is equal to all of the global aviation industry’s emissions from 2022.
The report’s authors further highlighted the importance of disclosing Scope 3 emissions (those arising from the supply chain), which make up 95% of emissions from large agrifood corporations. “Helping farmers finance the adoption of technologies to decarbonise food production is critical for successfully reducing the carbon footprint of our food system,” said Dirk Jan Kennes, Rabobank’s Asia head of RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness, who called the decarbonisation of food production “vital for Asia’s road to net zero”.