Don't be surprised if a trip to Starbucks' drive-thru for an oat milk latte leaves you with an almond milk latte instead. Recently, Starbucks rolled out Oatly products to all of its stores after recognizing that the world’s coffee drinkers are losing interest in dairy creamers. The coffee chain launched the oat milk last month and now its locations are facing a shortage due to the volume of orders including Oatly. Starbucks saw overwhelmingly high orders for oat milk products, and its locations nationwide could not match the soaring demand.

“Due to high demand, some customers may experience a temporary shortage of oat milk at their store,” a Starbucks spokesperson told CNN Business, adding that the oat milk shortage will end soon.

Starbucks added Oatly oat milk to its product line as a part of its Pathway to a Planet Positive Future campaign. The company has outwardly dedicated itself to cutting back its carbon footprint by tackling its carbon emissions, water, and waste. Starbuck aims to cut back all its waste categories by 50 percent over the next decade.

“Our Planet Positive initiatives have a central role in our long-term business strategy, and directly address what our customers are asking for,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said. “We are moving toward a more circular economy, and we are doing so in a very intentional, transparent, and accountable way.”

The coffee chain’s current supply shortage comes from a combination of increased demand and Oatly’s production facility’s delayed construction. Currently, the Swedish brand manufactures out of a single factory in New Jersey, but plans to soon open a second plant in Utah. The company initially hoped to open the facility’s doors last summer, but construction was halted due to the pandemic.

Beyond adding Oatly to its dairy alternative options, Starbucks began launching plant-based food items in stores across the United States. Last summer, the company debut an Impossible Breakfast Sandwich. Although the sandwich cannot be made completely vegan yet, it marks the first time the company has incorporated plant-based meat into its menu.

The coffee giant tested a Plant Powered Breakfast Sandwich at a location in Issaquah, WA. The sandwich uses a mung bean-based egg, plant-based sausage, dairy-free cheese, and an English muffin to concoct the company’s first fully vegan sandwich. The trial is only the latest for this location’s plant-based experiments. At this location, the company tested The Chickpea Bites & Avocado Protein Box, which rolled out nationwide this March.

“Expanding Starbucks plant-based menu is one of the ways we are pursuing our goal to reduce our carbon footprint by 50 percent,” a Starbucks spokesperson told VegNews. “Our aim is to provide our customers with a variety of choices as part of their Starbucks experience and we look forward to hearing feedback from our partners, employees, and customers.”

The oat milk shortage showcases the growing popularity of dairy-free alternatives. The combination of Oatly's skyrocketing market presence and Starbucks’ long-awaited plant-based shift led consumers to swarm the stores for the oat milk product. The demand appears to be maintaining its upward trajectory, and the two companies are working on meeting the coffee lovers’ needs.


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