Oat Milk’s Udder Disruption of Dairy, By the Numbers
Since the pandemic started, everyone’s been hoarding all the oat milk
270%: That’s how much U.S. sales of oat milk went up, year-over-year, in the period between January and mid-July, for a total of $132 million in sales, according to Nielsen, per the Associated Press. Oat milk now has such a hardcore fanbase that in the early weeks of the pandemic, worried hoarders caused sales of oat milk to increase faster than those of hand sanitizer and disinfectant. The leader in the space is Swedish company Oatly, which entered the U.S. in early 2017. Oatly announced last month that it raised $200 million at a $2 billion valuation from private equity giant Blackstone group as well as former Starbucks CEO and 2020 presidential candidate (remember that?) Howard Schultz and celebrities like Jay-Z and Oprah. Oatly also has plans to go public in 2021.
And while alt-milks may be winning over some new fans, the dairy industry has been on a bit of a bull run itself. The AP reported that U.S. retail sales of milk were up 8.3% to $6.4 billion, the best milk sales in a decade, perhaps because people stuck at home during the pandemic have been stocking up. Still, the uptick in milk sales is unlikely to rescue America’s long-ailing dairy industry. America’s milk-drinking habits have been in steady decline, going from nearly 250 pounds per per capita per year in 1975 to less than 150 pounds per year in 2018 (why is milk consumption measured in pounds? Ask the USDA). Dean Foods and Borden Dairy, two of the largest milk processors in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy last November and January, respectively. While the pandemic has come with a silver lining for dairy farmers, they expect it will be short-lived.
Who is the GOAT: Cows or oats?