Milk- and Dairy Alternatives

Oato Launches its Fresh Oat Milk into Waitrose Nationwide with Ambitions to Become the UK’s Leading Dairy Alternative

Oato, based in Lancashire England, is the producer of what it says is a category-first product with its refrigerated, fresh oat milk (as opposed to shelf-stable, UHT), created in a factory that produces more solar power than it uses.

This February Oato announced its launch into Booths stores across Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumbria, and Cheshire, marking its debut in brick-and-mortar retail and first departure from its home delivery model. Now, the company celebrates its first fully nationwide launch as its 1L Fresh Barista Whole Oat Drink made with 100% British oats lands on shelves at 229 Waitrose stores throughout the country.

“The availability of Oato in a mainstream supermarket like Waitrose marks a shift in consumer accessibility to fresh, sustainable milk alternatives”

Made exclusively with British Oats, Oato claims its carbon footprint and associated carbon miles are among the lowest of any plant milk on sale today. Oato is not the first or only UK alt milk producer to focus its messaging on the use of home-grown oats. Glebe Farm — which gained significant exposure in 2021 when it won a court battle with Oatly — also centres its marketing around the locally grown aspect.

But what makes the Oato milk taste remarkably different from its peers is the fresh quality. “British shoppers have long chosen fresh cow’s milk over long-life or powdered alternatives, and yet in the plant-based category, Oato is among the few to offer a high-quality, great-tasting fresh alternative, at a price that shoppers can afford every week,” says the brand.

Never Fresher Oato Waitrose launch
© Oato

Bold ambitions

Oato states it is striving to become the leading dairy alternative brand in the UK. We wanted to know more about its strategy and positioning, and asked founder and CEO Carl Hopwood for more insights on these bold intentions. Oato says it stands out in its category by offering freshly-made, barista-grade oat milk manufactured in the UK at a market-leading price of just £1.75 per litre, which is almost 25% cheaper than other leading brands.

Hopwood further explains that the brand prioritises customer preferences, launching products like Chocoloato last year and Strawberry Oato this year based on feedback and demand, with in-house manufacturing capabilities meaning the company can quickly develop new products and meet increased volume requirements.

“In four years, we have become the largest fresh oat milk manufacturer in the UK, with a low carbon footprint thanks to our solar-powered bottling site. We are ready to increase our production as we secure more national listings, aiming to make our fresh alternative more accessible and affordable for shoppers across the UK,” he explains.

Carl Hopwood, CEO of Oato
Carl Hopwood © Oato

“This positions us to become the market leader and ensures we are available where consumers need oat milk, from milk rounds to supermarkets, and coffee shops to convenience outlets. The vast majority of brands in the plant-based milk alternative market are imported, and there has been an almost 80% inflation in their average selling prices since the start of 2018.

“This is our first national listing with Waitrose, marking a significant milestone for our brand and expanding our reach to a wider audience across the UK. The availability of Oato in a mainstream supermarket like Waitrose marks a shift in consumer accessibility to fresh, sustainable milk alternatives. By making fresh, not UHT, oat milk accessible to more people across the UK, we are meeting a growing demand for high-quality, locally sourced dairy alternatives. Locally sourced, convenience, and provenance matter to British consumers, so to be one of the few that have those USPs within the dairy alternative category while also being fresh and not UHT raises the bar.”

Oato’s 1L Fresh Barista Whole Oat drink launched in Waitrose nationwide on the 1st of June 2024.

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