Who thought this alternative milk would be in such demand?
Oat milk is having a moment, but as Adam Chandler writes for Marker, that moment has been the work of decades for the brand Oatly. The Swedish alt-milk maker plodded along in relative obscurity on this side of the Atlantic Ocean until its stateside debut in 2016. Since then, the brand has exploded due to the expanding pool of vegan and nondairy eaters, a high quirk factor, and a strategic exclusivity (at one point, a special “barista” edition gave it a certain cachet and you’d hear people bandying about descriptors like “frothy” with the fervor of wine enthusiasts). The company fed on that energy with a Super Bowl commercial featuring the CEO singing badly about the virtues of not-dairy milks. And then there was swag that made it fashionable to try oat milk or say you hate it (or at least that commercial). It appears that this against-the-grain-but-for-this-grain approach will pay off, and even questions about sugar content can’t stop the train. Oatly goes public later this year, with predictions of its value reaching into the billions. We’ll see how its partnership with Starbucks ends up; linking up with the coffee giant is an undeniable boost, but demand has meant that some stores are running low on the precious milk. Some drinkers “want oat milk or nothing,” reported CNN earlier this week. Will disappointed buyers stay steamed that a pipeline problem is now blocking their chances of getting that hyped-up iced brown sugar shaken espresso, a month after its introduction? Or will the shortage just stoke their yearning even more?