Can Oatly reinvigorate slowing oatmilk category sales with launch unsweetened, clean-label options?

While plant-based milk is a “quiet superstar” ​in the broader plant-based category with the Plant Based Food Association reporting household penetration of plant-based milk upwards of 40% in 2023 with a repeat purchase rate of 75%, the category saw sales slide in 2023. According to Circana​, plant-based milk gallon sales fell 7.2% in the year ending Dec. 3, 2023 with soy and almond dropping just over 9% each and oat eking out a 0.9% increase.

The drop has been attributed in part to price hikes related to inflation but also rising consumer perceptions that plant-based milks are high in sugar and made with long lists of unfamiliar ingredients ​that don’t fit into the growing “clean” food movement.

To address these concerns and bring “more great-tasting oat-based products to more people,” Oatly created its new Unsweetened Oatmilk, which touts zero-sugar and only 40 calories per serving thanks to a new proprietary oat base, and Super Basic Oatmilk, made with just four ingredients, including upcycled citrus zest fiber to deliver the “creamy boost” consumers want without added oils, fortifications or the nine major allergens, according to the company. Both options will be available in coming months at retailers nationwide for a suggested price of $5.99 for 64 ounces.

Oatly President Mike Massersmith shared with FoodNavigator-USA more about the inspiration for Unsweetened Oatmilk and Super Basic Oatmilk, where they sit in the competitive landscape, how they complement the company’s existing portfolio and how the company is working with retailers at a time when many are rationalizing SKUs. Finally, he shares where he sees the biggest challenges and opportunities for oatmilk and plant-based milk more broadly going forward.