Verlinvest, a family-owned evergreen investment group, is deemed to be Oatly’s largest shareholder
Photo as see on Oatly’s Facebook page

Sweden’s alternative milk maker Oatly is gearing up for an initial public offering – and media speculation has it the challenger brand could seek a valuation of nearly $10 billion.

Speaking to NutritionInvestor, Oat;y’s Katie Turner confirmed the move. “We’ve taken the first official step towards pursuing a potential IPO by submitting a confidential F-1 registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States. However, due to the confidentiality of the process, we have no further comments.”

Oatly is a success story in the plant-based space – from the outset. The company was founded in the 1990s by brothers Rickard and Bjorn Öste, leveraging technology from research at Sweden’s Lund University that allowed to turn fibre-rich oats into liquid food.

The company’s R&D has been steadily bringing products to market – the flagship oat milk range was joined by the chilled oat drink, on-the-go, oatgurt, and ice cream. Products are sold in the US, Europe and Asia.

Oatly’s latest fundraising was in July when the Malmo-based company raised $200 million in a round led by Blackstone. Oatly was valued at $2 billion, according to a PitchBook estimate.

The challenger brand attracted world-class celebrity investors, including Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z’s entertainment agency Roc Nation, and actress Natalie Portman.

Verlinvest, a family-owned evergreen investment group, is said to be Oatly’s largest shareholder.

No to Amendment 171

Oatly has also made the headlines for its campaign against Amendment 171, a modification to the EU law with far-reaching consequences for plant-based alternatives to dairy and the consumers who buy them.

Current regulations already prohibit terms like ‘vegan cheese’ or ‘oat milk, but Amendment 171 goes further, seeking to prohibit “imitation or evocation” of dairy products – in packaging in marketing material.

Oatly argues Amendment 171 is both censorship to plant-based products and a contradiction to the EU’s own climate goals.

“As part of the European Green Deal (with the goal to make the EU climate neutral by 2050), the Farm to Fork Strategy highlights the fact that current EU food consumption patterns are unsustainable, calling for a shift to more plant-based diets, both for reasons of public health and for environmental protection. Amendment 171 is a move in the opposite direction, creating a huge roadblock for both consumers and the European plant-based food sector,” said Oatly on the company website.

Date published: 25 February 2021

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