The Week (US)

Oatly vs. dairy: Can plant-based milk be trusted?


Now that Oatly is officially big business, it’s time to decide if the popular plant-based milk is actually a health drink, said Colin Groundwate­r in “Our aim is to disrupt one of the world’s largest industries—dairy,” declared Oatly’s CEO in the run-up to an initial public offering that last week set the value of the quirky oat milk company at more than $10 billion. A backlash against the brand was building last year even as sales surged, with critics citing two online journalist­s who’d suggested that oat milk is as unhealthy as Coca-Cola. True, Oatly is highly processed, “which is not a good thing.” But the canola oil that’s added to create a milky richness contains no trans fats, as the alarmists imply, and their claims about sugars are also “pretty heavily overstated.” The process of turning oatmeal into a beverage converts complex starches into maltose, a simple sugar. Still, Oatly contains a small fraction of the sugar found in Coke.

“Oatly isn’t the first company to cherry-pick facts in its marketing,” said Christine Byrne in OutsideOnl­ The entire dairy industry has long tried to convince consumers that cow’s milk is essential to human growth. It is not. But let’s compare: Oatly and 2 percent milk contain similar amounts of calories. Oatly contains 30 percent more carbohydra­tes (thanks to sugars), and dairy milk has twice as much protein. Oatly likes to play up its edge on fiber, but 2 grams per serving is “nothing to get excited about.” In the end, the two rivals are nutritiona­lly similar, and Oatly “actually has more calcium and vitamin D than the real stuff.” It’s “no superfood, but it’s also not horribly unhealthy.” For people who choose plant-based diets, for ecological, ethical, or other reasons, “that’s pretty great.”

 ??  ?? The dairy section’s new It brand
The dairy section’s new It brand

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