Oatly gains momentum in its global plant-based movement and fuels expansion with a $200 million equity investment led by Blackstone Growth
Malmö, Sweden and New York, July 14, 2020 – Oatly, the Swedish sustainable food company, today announced that it has further bolstered its plant-based movement through an agreement to invest $200 million in equity led by Blackstone Growth (“BXG”). Additional investors in the 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. As minority shareholders, the new investors will join the company’s existing partners, including Verlinvest-CR JV and the company’s founders, on Oatly’s dynamic journey. As part of this transaction, Oatly’s founders will also be reinvesting in the company’s growth by providing additional capital.
The demand for a more sustainable food system is global and growing fast, with much of the shift being led by Millennials and Generation Z. Oatly’s patented original oatmilk created the fast-growing oatmilk category and the company is a leader in the plant-based food space, with its products available in more than 50,000 locations in 20 countries. 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 US and Asia. By bringing facilities closer to consumers, the company will make the Oatly product range more readily available to the growing community of health and environmentally conscious consumers worldwide.
For Oatly’s CEO Toni Petersson, this investment demonstrates a major step in funding sustainable, society-altering companies. 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.”
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.”
Since its founding in Sweden in the 1990s, Oatly has always been at the forefront of the rapidly growing plant-based movement. As part of the company’s overarching mission to reduce the C02e footprint of the food industry by shifting consumers’ consumption choices, the company last year added a carbon footprint label to their products in Europe. By making that data available, Oatly enabled consumers to consider the carbon footprint of their food choices before they buy, just as they do with nutritional content. The label was accompanied by a challenge to the larger industry titled “Hey, food industry: show us your numbers!”
The Oatly campaign delivered several industry-changing results:
- 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.
“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”, said Petersson.
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.”
Oatly is a world leader in the global sustainability movement, promoting the benefits of plant-based eating from both a nutritional and sustainability standpoint, in order to creative positive societal change. The company was founded in the 1990s and is based on original scientific research from Lund University. Today the company 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. Oatly currently employs 550 people throughout Europe, North America and Asia with global headquarters in Malmö, Sweden and regional offices in New York, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
About Verlinvest-CR Joint Venture
The Verlinvest-CR Joint Venture was established in 2016 to invest in mid-sized, high-growth businesses in the healthy branded Food & Beverage and Senior Care sectors. The Joint Venture marries Verlinvest’s deep consumer expertise in growing international F&B brands with China Resources’ broad distribution capability to bring innovative and high potential brands to a global audience. Verlinvest is an international consumer-focused investment company, supporting entrepreneur-led, high-growth, category-defining brands with global ambitions, with offices in Brussels, London, New York and Singapore. China Resources is a holding company with a diverse range of business interests, including over 4,700 food retail outlets and coffee shops in 280 cities across China, under brands including Vanguard, Tesco Vanguard, Olé and Pacific Coffee.
Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms. We seek to create positive economic impact and long-term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, and the communities in which we work. We do this by using extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems. Our asset management businesses, with $538 billion in assets under management, include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, growth equity, opportunistic, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com.
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