The Swedish oat milk brand has welcomed celebrities Oprah Winfrey and Natalie Portman among other new investors
Woman with an oatly pack drinking frm a straw
Photo as seen on Oatly Facebook page

Oatly, the Swedish oat milk brand, has agreed to a $200 million equity investment led by Blackstone Growth (BXG), a global equity growth vehicle launched last year by Blackstone, the New York-based investment firm. Blackstone Growth, led by Jon Korngold, now has a 10% stake in the business.

The Blackstone Growth fund features celebrity investors, including Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation and Natalie Portman, as well as Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks chairman and chief executive. Orkila Capital, and Rabo Corporate Investments, the investment arm of Rabobank, also joined the round.

As minority shareholders, the new investors will join the company’s existing partners, including Verlinvest-CR JV and the company’s founders.

As part of this transaction, Oatly’s founders will also provide additional capital.

Oatly said the new investment will fund the company’s overall growth plans, which include expansion in current markets and new production plants and related jobs in Europe, Asia and the US.

“Leaders in asset management like Blackstone play an essential role in order to create real sustainable change,” said Toni Petersson, Oatly chief executive.

Peterson noted that since the re-launch of the Oatly brand in 2013, the company’s focus has been to impact society positively by enabling people to change their lives with better, more environmentally responsible food choices, and in so doing, re-shape the food system to better contribute to the future of the planet.

“We chose to partner with Blackstone Growth because of their tremendous resources and unique reach,” he explained. “Our new partners’ commitment to supporting us and furthering of our mission is a clear indication of where the world is heading, which is in a new, more sustainable direction.”

Oatly’s future plans

Oatly’s journey in the sustainable food space started in 1990 when the company was formed building on research at Lund University. The company patented the original oat milk and created the fast-growing oat milk category, which is consumed by loyal millennial and gen-z customers.

The brand has been a major player in the plant-based food space eve since, with products available in more than 50,000 locations in 20 countries.

Oatly now wants to get even closer to consumers and make its product range more readily available to the growing community of health and environmentally conscious consumers worldwide.

Jon Korngold, global head of Blackstone Growth, commented: “Oatly is a premier global brand whose product is committed to healthy and sustainable living with significant runway for continued growth to meet rising consumer demand.

“We are privileged to partner with Toni and the broader Oatly team to help the company extend its global leadership position in the years to come.”

Oatly: a champion of the sustainable food ecosystem

Last year Oatly debuted a carbon footprint label to all its products distributed in Europe. The move was part of the company’s overarching mission to reduce the negative environmental impact of the food industry by shifting consumers’ consumption choices.

By making that data available, Oatly enabled consumers to consider the carbon footprint of their food choices before they buy, just as they do with nutritional content.

The label was accompanied by a challenge to the larger industry titled “Hey, food industry: show us your numbers!”

The Oatly campaign delivered several industry-changing results:
• Multiple retailers moved to enhanced product labelling, showing carbon footprints;
• The Deutsche Bundestag (German Parliament) agreed to consider mandating enhancing carbon footprint product labelling into law; and
• Food giant Unilever committed to begin carbon labelling for 70,000 of its food products.

Eric Melloul, chairman of Oatly and managing director at Verlinvest, commented: “Since our initial investment in 2016, we have supported Oatly in its successful transformation from a Nordic brand into a global movement by delivering unique, high-quality engaging products, based on proprietary, patented oat-technology to the new emerging generation of conscious consumers in a transparent manner.

“We are thrilled as this new investment will accelerate the Oatly brand expansion in North America, Asia and Europe and allow for the emergence of a global leader in food sustainability.”

Date published: 17 July 2020

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