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Oatly, King of Alternative Milks, Will Go Public This Year

The company already has celebrity investors, such as Oprah and Natalie Portman

A carton and a glass of Oatly milk. Photo: Tada Images/Shutterstock
Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food and Travel Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

Oat milk giant Oatly is looking to go public this year with an initial public offering that could hit $1 billion. The Sweden-based company, backed by everyone from Oprah to the Blackstone Group (more on that in a second) is expected to pull in $400 million in 2020, double what it earned in 2019.

Oatly’s popularity marks another milestone in the battle for alternative milk supremacy, pitting soy against almond against oat against pea. Oats don’t use as much water for production as almonds, and crucially, the texture has been embraced by baristas, who say it’s easier to froth and heat than other alternative milks. Last year, Starbucks added it to the menu in all of its locations.

Still, Oatly is not without its detractors. Last fall, it also faced a small boycott after news circulated that it sold a 10-percent stake to the Blackstone Group, a private equity investment firm that has its hands in everything from razing the Amazon rainforest to buying up single-family homes and raising prices after the most recent recession (for which it was condemned by the UN Human Rights Council). Oatly pledged that it was still working toward a more sustainable world, but its corporate ties show the limits of conscious capitalism.

Still, Oatly’s potential IPO is one more example of the rise of vegan products that mimic the flavor and texture of meat and dairy, such as Impossible Foods and . For example, Taco Bell in the UK announced that it would be replacing its vegetarian-favorite potatoes with a plant-based meat made from, you guessed it, oats. It’s oats all the way down.