Vegan milk producer Oatly quits plans to build its first UK factory 

A plant-based drink manufacturer, Oatly, has confirmed it will not be going ahead with the launch of its first UK factory. 

A plant-based milk company, Oatly, has confirmed it will not be going ahead with the launch of its first UK factory in Peterborough.

The vegan drink giant was set to open a state-of-the-art manufacturing hub in Peterborough, which was expected to create 200 jobs. 

The Peterborough Telegraph was first to report that the Sweden-based company has scrapped its plans for a UK factory. 

New ways to serve the UK market 

The company, founded by brothers Rickard and Björn Öste in the 1990s, sells its products in more than 20 countries across Europe and Asia. 

Three years ago, Oatly announced plans to build one of the world’s largest plant-based ‘milk’ factories at Peterborough Gateway. Production was set to start in 2023. 

A company’s spokesperson said the production centre would turn out 300 million litres of oat drinks, with the capacity to increase its production to 450 million litres. 

Bryan Carroll, general manager of Oatly UK & Ireland, said the decision to drop the plans was made at the end of last year, after “identifying new ways to serve the UK market [by] utilising existing facilities across Europe.” 

Past controversies

Oatly prompted significant public backlash in 2021 when it was revealed that the company had taken a small Cambridgeshire family farm to court over alleged trademark infringement.

Consumers and farmers alike took to social media to express confusion over the case, which claimed that PureOaty’s branding was too similar to Oatly’s own. Many were quick to point out a lack of obvious similarities between the two, while others accused Oatly of ‘bullying’ the family farm.

A judge dismissed all claims by Swedish company Oatly.

In 2022, Oatly came under fire again as the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ruled environmental claims made in its adverts were misleading.

The series of TV, print and social media adverts received 109 complaints questioning Oatly’s data on the environmental impact of its Barista Edition drink, versus cows’ milk. The ASA upheld four out of five of the complaints.

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