Swedish sustainable food company Oatly announced today that it is raising $200 million in equity, in an investment round led by Blackstone Growth. The injection of capital will fund the company’s overall growth plans, which include expansion in current markets and new production plants and related jobs in Europe, the United States and Asia.
Founded in the 1990s, Oatly offers a broad range of nutritious and sustainable oat-based products which utilize a patented enzyme technology that copies nature’s own process and turns fiber-rich oats into nutritional liquid food designed specifically for humans. The company offers a broad range of products including oat-based beverage, “oatgurt,” ice creams, and cooking products, among others. The company’s products are available in more than 50,000 locations in 20 countries.
In addition to Blackstone, investors participating in the current funding round include Oprah Winfrey, Roc Nation, Natalie Portman, former Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz, Orkila Capital, and Rabo Corporate Investments, the investment arm of Rabobank. The new investors join existing partners including Verlinvest-CR JV and the company’s founders. The founders will also be providing additional capital.
Oatly’s CEO Toni Petersson said:
“Leaders in asset management like Blackstone play an essential role in order to create real sustainable change. It is my belief that capital has to turn green and do so for the right reasons. Since we re-launched our brand in 2013, our focus has been to positively impact society 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. 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.”
According to Oatly Millennials and Generation Z consumers are driving demand globally for a more sustainable food system. The expansion funded by the new financing will bring the company’s facilities closer to the consumer, making the Oatly product range more readily available to the growing community of health and environmentally conscious consumers worldwide.
Jon Korngold, Global Head of Blackstone Growth, said:
“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.”
“I understand that it may sound naive at times to actually believe that Oatly can change the world—that the impact of what we do can inspire others to make changes that will lead to a global behavioral shift among consumers—but that’s fine. Investments from firms like Blackstone in companies like Oatly is a critical step in securing a future of focused green investment that transcends traditional CSR work and focuses on urgent, systemic efforts to address the climate crisis.”
Oatly’s sustainability focus includes the company’s mission to reduce the C02e footprint of the food industry by shifting consumers’ consumption choices. To that end, the company recently added a carbon footprint label to products in Europe, enabling consumers to consider the carbon footprint of their food choices before they buy. Oatly also led a “Hey, food industry: show us your numbers!” campaign, leading to positive results, including:
- 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 said:
“I am delighted to welcome to the Oatly family our new partners who share our commitment to supporting category-creating brands and sustainability. 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.”
Ann Chung, Managing Director at Blackstone Growth, said:
“Oatly has a creative and talented team, an incredible brand, and a strong set of values. We’re excited to invest in what they have built and to join forces with the Verlinvest-CR JV to ensure its continued success moving forward.”