Oat milk brand Oatly is setting itself up for expansion into the Chinese market as the Swedish company sees demand for its plant milks surge.
Oatly, the pioneer of oat milk, is often credited with popularizing it in international markets.
“We were growing really healthy in Europe and we’ve been there for a while, but then we entered the United States and the craze started,” Oatly CEO Toni Petersson told CNN.
“We didn’t know it was going to explode the way it did,” he added.
Demand for oat milk is rising, and it is expected to outpace other plant milk varieties this year.
Despite the company struggling to keep up with demand for its products in North American and European markets, Oatly is setting itself up to get into the massive Chinese market.
In preparation, the company launched a campaign in Hong Kong where it introduced a Chinese character that represents plant-based milk.
Petersson said the company created the character “just to kind of educate people and make it easier to understand what it is and how to use it.”
The company, which makes all its products vegan, has teamed up with Starbucks in Hong Kong, as well as a number of local coffee shops.
Oat milk is said to taste more like cow’s milk than any other plant milk variety, so as people increasingly move away from dairy partly due to health concerns, oat milk is drawing their attention.
Companies have taken notice and added a number of oat milk products to capitalize on the growing demand.
In February, Califia Farms announced the launch of its first line of oat milk, and this month, Happy Planet added new Chocolate and Barista Edition oat milk to its line.
But the oat milk trend doesn’t stop at milk. So Delicious launched the first-to-market line of oat milk ice cream this year.
Oatly also continues to add to its oat milk products, as the company introduced its new “Oatgurt,” yogurt made with oat milk, late last month.