Some Plant-Based Eaters Are Boycotting Oatly: Here’s What to Know

|Updated Sep 3, 2020
Instagram / @oatly

Within just a short time, Swedish dairy-alternative company Oatly has skyrocketed in plant-based popularity. Its cheeky advertisements and perfectly crafted aesthetics have launched the brand's tasty milk, yogurts, and ice creams to the tippy top of the plant-based marketplace. It even won The Beet's taste test for best plant-based milk a couple of months ago.

Oatly's Recent Investor is Causing Controversy

Suddenly, Oatly finds itself at odds with many of its former devotees, who are now boycotting the brand after learning about its new corporate investor, private equity giant Blackstone Group Inc. In July of this year, Blackstone bought a $200 million stake in Oatly, roughly a ten perfect share of the plant-based company. In the Fall of 2019, Blackstone also invested in Hidrovias do Brasil, a Brazilian infrastructure company that has contributed to the Amazon's deforestation.

Sustainability-minded consumers have increasingly been flocking to dairy alternatives like Oatly's products because they generally require fewer emissions to produce, but Blackstone's ties to rainforest deforestation in the Amazon have caused many customers to cut ties.

Specifically, last September Blackstone invested in a Brazilian infrastructure company that is responsible for "massive amounts of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest," according to Private Equity Stakeholder. Deforestation is a massive contributor to global warming and has been blamed for man-made forest fires that destroyed vast swaths of the Amazon last year. Companies were largely to blame, and investors have decided to show their might at the cash register.

Eating plant-based foods is one way to combat climate change since the farming of animals accounts for 20 percent of the greenhouse gasses generated by humans. The burning of forests in order to grow grains for animal agriculture is the very reason that many consumers choose to drink oat milk instead of cows milk. That and the fact that it's better for your health.

Oatly's UK Twitter account has responded to some of the consumer outrages, replying to tweets in which users have voiced frustration with the Swedish company, saying, "We’re still Oatly and our mission is the same. But we're convinced that if we’re to progress in the shift towards plant-based we have to involve governments and private equity firms, and steer more global capital into green investments."

What do you think? Will you still be purchasing Oatly or will you be switching to another plant-based brand? Voice your opinions in the comments below or on our Facebook page.