Oatly: The alt milk makers are struggling to meet their lofty expectations

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The oat bloat

Alt milk company Oatly saw its share price sink some 17% this week after the plant-based beverage maker reported a disappointing third quarter.

There was a lot to digest from Oatly, much of which left a sour aftertaste. Losses were wider than expected, sales weren’t up to scratch, and the company announced that they’d be becoming a leaner organization, with layoffs likely to come in the future. At its peak, Oatly was worth $17bn, today the company's market cap. is closer to $1bn.

Plant-based growth

Oatly’s woes come even as their key ingredient stays strong in the battle for top spot in the alt milk game. Currently, interest in almond is still top for Google searchers across the world, though oat has quickly become buzzy, leaving soy and rice behind back in 2020.

Indeed, the wider alt milk industry around Oatly is in pretty good health. Last year, the Good Food Institute reported that plant-based milk sales hit $2.6bn in the US, up 33% in comparison to 2018.

Research shows that the dairy industry takes up to 10x as much land and 2-20x as much water as plant alternatives. With the world growing more climate-conscious, many are turning to nuts and oats to top up their coffees and splash in their cereal.

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