Oatly to open one of world's biggest alt-milk factories in East Anglia

Vegan brand will open plant in 2023, creating at least 200 jobs, as demand soars

Swedish alt-milk brand Oatly, which is gearing up for a US stock market listing, has announced plans to open one of the world’s biggest plant-based dairy factories in the UK.

The plant, in Peterborough, East Anglia, which will open in 2023, will have the ultimate capacity to produce up to 450m litres of oat milk a year. The plan will create at least 200 jobs, the company said.

Ishen Paran, the general manager of Oatly UK, said the UK market had become a “really important driver of the global plant-based movement” with the company seeing growing demand across the country. “We’re excited to supply this increased demand,” he said.

Oatly has enjoyed massive growth thanks to a combination of guerrilla marketing and good timing, as more people embrace a vegan or vegetarian diet. Its sales nearly doubled to $200m (£144m) in 2019 and were predicted to do the same in 2020.

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UK sales of plant milks have jumped 16% to £278m in the past year, according to the data firm Nielsen. Within that, oat milk sales more than doubled to £73m. Oatly, the world’s biggest oat milk brand, has expanded its range to include yoghurts, spreads and ice-cream.

Last month Malmö-based Oatly confirmed plans for initial public offering that could value the business at as much as $10bn. The flotation follows last summer’s sale of a minority stake to a group of investors that included US private equity firm Blackstone, Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z. That deal valued the company at $2bn.

On opening, the Peterborough site, which will source oats locally, will produce 300m litres of oat milk, but there would be scope to increase production to 450m litres. The decision to open a UK factory “means plant-based dairy will be more accessible for people to switch to, helping them to reduce their climate impact”, Oatly said.

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Zoe Wood

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