Dairy milk sales are falling around the world and strong competition from the burgeoning plant milk market is one of the main reasons. So embrace the oat milk market, don’t fight it: that’s the message from Gordon Rennie a farmer from Fife for the past 44 years.
In an article for the Scottish Sunday Post, Rennie claims that this is “a fantastic opportunity for Scotland. Coffee chains and small cafes around the UK are using oat milk. Oats are Scotland’s indigenous crop. We grow the best oats and have the best, purest water. We could be on the verge of something big.”
Mr Rennie’s comments were informed by a recent visit to New Zealand where he looked into a local variety of oats that was mixed with local water to test out a potential new oat drink. He has been growing Southern Gold oats for the past three years.
The dairy industry is facing huge problems as the younger generation, in particular, look to be more environmentally conscious and ease the suffering in dairy farms.
Last year milk sales fell by $1.1 billion in the USA. The Fast Company blog reported earlier this year confirmation by the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) that US dairy milk sales had fallen from $14.7 billion in 2017 to $13.6 billion in 2018. Low milk prices were partly to blame, but there is no denying the consumer shift toward plant-based alternatives with plant-based milk sales increasing by nine per cent over a year and now comprising 15 per cent of total “milk sales” with cow’s milk sales dropping by six per cent.
A report by the research firm Mintel from January 2018 showed that non-dairy milk sales had grown by 61 per cent since 2012.
That article estimated that the global dairy alternatives market size was estimated at $11.9 billion in 2017 with analysts believing that the market will exceed $34 billion by 2024.
Oat milk sales are indeed growing quickly. Oatly has recently expanded its manufacturing facilities.
Oat milk is a plant-based milk alternative that is free of nuts, soy, lactose and of course any dairy. It’s even acceptable for people who are gluten intolerant assuming that the original oats are certified to be gluten-free.
Plant milk was a £367 million market in the UK in 2017 and it is only getting bigger.
The co-founder of Go Vegan Scotland and in-house legal counsel for Go Vegan World, Barbara Bolton was quoted in the article about the benefits of oat milk.
“Recently-published research from Harvard Law School found 50% of Scotland’s crops is to feed animals, which we then eat,” she said. “It states that if we repurposed the crops for human food, it would reduce imports and emissions, as well as increase protein and healthy eating.”
The Scotland Director of Communications for the NFU, Bob Carruth commented that “an oat-based drink made from Scottish oats and Scottish water sounds like an appealing proposition for that marketplace.”
Mr Rennie is planning to talk to Quaker, Scottish Enterprise and the National Farmers’ Union Scotland. It will be interesting to see if Scotland strategically decides to take its share of the oat milk market. It is according to Mr Rennie well poised to do so.