Oatly to open UK-based factory

Swedish oat drink company Oatly – which has sparked a backlash among farmers for its claims about dairy farming’s environmental impact – has unveiled plans to open its first UK factory in Peterborough in 2023, sourcing oats from UK farmers.

The new UK Oatly factory will be one of the largest plant-based factories of its kind in the world, producing 300 million litres of oat drink per year at its launch, with the potential to grow to 450 million litres.

It has pledged to source oats locally across the UK and supply the UK market.

Oatly has come under fire in recent months for its ‘anti-dairy’ advertising campaigns, with the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) accusing the brand of “peddling misinformation” and “pitching people against one another,” following recent claims about the environmental impact of dairy.

An advert released earlier this year showed a man, seemingly guiltily, putting milk in the fridge in a darkened kitchen before being reprimanded by his son. It closes with the phrase: ‘Need help talking to dad about milk?’

It was posted on social media along with a comment from Oatly that reads: ‘The dairy and meat industries emit more Co2e than all the world’s planes, trains, cars, boats etc., combined.’

The post prompted a backlash from UK farmers with the NFU responding: ‘The UK figures for emissions from UK agriculture are 10 per cent compared to UK transport at 27% (data from Defra). We don’t recognise your statistics.’

The company says its new factory, expected to supply the local area with at least 200 jobs, aims to use 100 per cent renewable energy and decrease its energy consumption, water consumption and waste by 75 per cent each by 2029, compared to 2019’s figures.

Ishen Paran, general manager at Oatly UK said: “Questions about a potential UK factory have been circulating for a while, and we’re really excited to finally announce the news of its arrival in 2023. The UK is a really important driver of the global plant-based movement, with a growing demand for Oatly across the country, and we’re excited to supply this increased demand.”

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