The Oatly Boycott: Oat milk, deforestation and Trump

Oatly, the Swedish milk alternative brand, has come under fire from its own fanbase of vegans and climate activists.

Last month, Oatly sold a $200 million stake to a consortium that includes Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z. Among them, though, is the American private equity firm Blackstone, led by Trump donor Stephen Schwartzman. By Natalie Cheung.

Why are people angry at Oatly?

  • In November last year, Blackstone also invested in Hidrovias do Brasil, a logistics company that is linked to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, by building a highway on illegal land to cultivate and transport soybeans.
  • According to Bloomberg, their CEO Stephen Schwartzman donated $2.8 million to super PAC America First Nation, to support Donald Trump’s re-election. Having withdrawn America from the Paris Agreement, Trump isn’t exactly the biggest believer in climate change, let alone climate activism.
Blackstone has now invested in the oat milk company, Oatly.

Oatly’s response

It’s tricky for Oatly now, since it has long branded itself as a sustainable option.

The product itself is indeed less wasteful to manufacture. Oats use 80% less land to grow than dairy milk, and way less water than other alternatives like almond milk.

The company goes the extra mile by publishing sustainability reports and fact sheets every year, but now critics are calling their ethics into question.

Oatly is busy saying “sorry” to disgruntled consumers on Twitter, but they have also maintained that there is a need to “involve governments and private equity firms” and “steer more global capital into green investments”.

Oatly's response to the boycott on Twitter.

Do you think the boycott is fair?