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Hi everyone

First of all, we would like to thank everyone for their patience. The study and analysis of what to do with the residues from the production of our oat drink is one of the most complex and perplexing issues that this company has faced. Because we are a science-based company, the first place we tend to look for answers on how to solve challenges is, of course, science. This time, however, we found science alone could only provide partial answers. Instead, our meetings have been filled with philosophical discussions: How do we stay true to our overall objective of long-term systemic change by shifting consumption of animal-based food products to plant-based food products without having to make decisions along the way that conflict with our belief system? How do we find a way to make the right short-term decisions without sacrificing the optimal long-term impact of what we are trying to do? How do we share the complexity of these issues with a diverse and demanding group of consumers and non-consumers with varying levels of trust for company transparency? How can we always make the right decision when every option has a new set of implications?  

Perhaps the most fundamental thing that sets us apart from many other food companies is our unrelenting drive to question and reimagine the way things are done, both in regard to society in general but more specifically in how we as humans relate to our food systems and to the planet. There are undoubtedly gazillions of ways to create change in society. As a sustainability company, we believe the best way for us to contribute is to introduce more people to the advantages of a plant-based diet. This means that the more sustainable, better tasting products we make, the easier it will be for people to shift their consumption patterns and when they do, the planet and all the humans and animals that live here will benefit. It is simple logic, yet to make a significant global impact, simple logic is not enough. This demands persistence and dedication and focus and humility and the understanding that at times, the decisions we have to make in order to create systemic change will not be supported by everyone, sometimes not even our greatest supporters. It would be naive to believe otherwise. Yet, in order to do something really amazing, we have to remain focused on our end goal of shifting planetary food consumption to be plant-based which means our popularity will always be fluid.

As a sustainability company we will always look at things from a sustainability perspective first. That is why we believe the best solution moving forward is to develop technology and the refinement of oat residues so that we can turn the oat residues into new oat-based consumer products. While this technology does not currently exist, the benefits would be game changing. We are therefore excited to announce that we have just received a grant from the Swedish governmental agency for innovation, Vinnova, for SEK 1,727,500. Vinnova’s focus is to help strengthen Sweden’s innovation capacity by funding research and innovation projects. We will match their initial grant by contributing an additional SEK 1,727,500 for a total of SEK 3,455,000. This project started on June 1, 2018 and will continue through January 30, 2020 with the aim to develop two new food prototypes produced in pilot-scale and evaluated for their commercial viability.

It is impossible at present to predict the impact of such a research project or to what extent we would be able to produce, market and sell food products derived from our oat residue or even if there would be a consumer demand for it. It is our hope that we will be able to utilise a significant portion of the oat residues in the future however as our production grows, we will need to look into additional alternatives. One promising option involves the building of biogas energy renewal plants at our production facilities. The biogas plants would turn the oat residue into renewable energy and power our production facilities. At present, our Landskrona production plant is powered by fossil-free energy sources which has lowered greenhouse gas emissions per litre of oat drink from 110g to 7g, putting our facility on course to be carbon neutral, however building a biogas plant on site at our facilities would create a closed cyclical system providing far greater impact. Under the leadership of our Sustainability, Supply and Innovation departments we have initiated work on the Biogas Development Project which is currently in the process of conducting a feasibility study for an on-site plant in Landskrona.

In the interim, as we develop the projects outlined above, we will continue to make our oat residue available to local farmers near our plant in Landskrona until we can be certain that the impact of altering this course doesn’t have a more negative holistic impact on the planet and the humans and animals that live here. The loss of nutrients and energy currently available in our oat residue would mean that local farmers would need to find these nutrients elsewhere, which historically has meant South America where the growth of soy concentrates has contributed to the deforestation of the Amazon and proven fatal to the ecosystems of that region. The total harm done in that equation is potentially so significant that we are unable to justify trading the local reuse of oat residue for one that entails habitat extinction and climate change. At least not without clear and documented proof proving otherwise. Additionally, this approach allows farmers to source more sustainable feed options as we develop our projects, ultimately eliminating the need for emergency replacement soy concentrates at all costs.   

If we have failed to see a potential solution that you may happen to be tinkering with, we would love to hear about it. We will therefore be sending out a select number of invites to those of you who have been active on this issue so that you may share your thoughts and ideas with us in person. It is our hope that you can find the time to join us in London at the beginning of December where you will be able to speak to our experts and share your ideas. We are hoping that this could be the first of an ongoing dialogue where we get the chance to source your experience and ideas in finding a way to move forward. If you live outside the UK and would like to meet us in person please contact us at info@oatly.com to discuss options.

Lastly, we would like you to know that we appreciate both your support and your constant questioning of our positions and choices. The only way forward as a society is to grow our shared unrelenting drive to question and re-imagine the way things are done, in regard to society in general but more specifically in how we as humans relate to our food systems and the planet.

/Oatly