Pandemic Pantry: How Coronavirus Panic is Causing Oat Milk Sales to Soar

March 3, 2020

Demand for the plant-based milk alternative has steadily been rising over the past year with sales spiking by 70% (VegNews) in the UK.

Oatly, a Swedish oat-milk based brand offering oat-based drinks and desserts have become a pantry staple for many- with New York even seeing a shortage in 2019 - has seen a ramp in production of 1,250% (MSN). Their quirky sustainable packaging, raw honesty (this Oatly ad features the comment “it tastes like sh*t) and ambitious marketing strategy is making waves across the West and is no doubt here to stay.

The creamy texture is akin to traditional cow’s milk and has become a favourite amongst baristas due to its ability to froth well, a win for a nation who loves coffee but is increasingly becoming aware of animal agriculture’s impact on the environment and our health. It’s also chock-a-block with fibre, protein, calcium and iron without the added cost of animal life and has been endorsed by celebrities and politicians alike.

This brand of oat milk is shelf-stable (it doesn’t have to be refrigerated until it’s open) as well as many other plant-based alternatives to milk, making them the perfect contender for stockpiling with the added bonus of having a smaller carbon footprint, unlike its dairy counterpart. The health benefits of plant-based milk could also be contributing to their spike in sales amongst the Coronavirus chaos- advice given by doctors includes:

"Getting the right mix of healthy, wholesome foods in your diet rich in nutrients like zinc, copper, and various vitamins not only lowers your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, but it can also help your body fight off more temporary infections and illnesses, like COVID-19 (Coronavirus)," (Business Insider).

Plant-based milk is increasingly becoming popular, even without the aid of onset global crisis: it was reported at the annual World Food Innovation Awards in London earlier in March, the innovative Avocado milk brand from the US, was crowned the winner in the Best Health or Wellness Drink category and is predicted to hit $1 billion in sales in the following year (New Zealand Herald). The Hawke’s Bay brainchild made from avocados and oats with a sugar content of less than 2.5g and shelf life of 10 months, is currently only available in the US but there are plans to expand across the globe.

In addition, pea milk, the latest plant-based craze, boasts a soy, gluten and GMO-free recipe and utilises minuscule amounts of water in its production compared to dairy milk or even almond milk.

Oat milk isn’t the only substance immune to the Corona shopping virus, however; another high in demand products include fruit snacks, canned goods, pasta and dried beans as panicked consumers clear shelves in fear of long periods of quarantine placed on them by governments. These food and drinks trends are showing consumers are prioritising their health not solely because we are in the midst of a global health pandemic, but also these have become their regular buying patterns.

Although it seems things are looking good for plant-based businesses; the Coronavirus epidemic is disrupting the food and drink chain supply both domestically and internationally due to travel restrictions and shipping costs resulting in financial insecurities and losses.

Susan Anifowoshe

Account Executive