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Oatly on its plant-based plans as it sows seeds of change in Singapore


By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

January 12, 2021 | 4 min read

Oatly expanded into Singapore last year having seen potential in the local market for plant-based products. Here, The Drum catches up with the company’s marketing lead for Asia to hear about its ongoing ambitions for the market there.

Swedish plant-based food brand Oatly had been selling its products in Singapore on a small scale for a few years but, after witnessing increased demand, it felt in 2020 that the time was right to officially launch in the market says Amanda Chan, its marketing and communications lead for Asia.

In recent years, Singapore has seen the entry of plant-based alternative brands including Beyond Meat, Quorn and Impossible Foods (The Drum previously spoke Jordan Sadowsky, director of expansion at Impossible, about why the brand chose Singapore). “Consumers in Singapore have been increasing in their health and sustainability consciousness in recent years,” says Chan.

”According to a survey by YouGov Profiles in 2020, two-in-five (39%) Singaporeans are currently on a flexitarian diet. We see potential to expand our reach among consumers with an interest to explore a more plant-based diet, which is a segment that will continue to grow in local markets.

“Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve seen how consumers have prioritized their wellbeing and we felt that it was an opportune time to introduce Oatly via popular retail platforms like RedMart and in stores including Cold Storage and FairPrice Finest so that consumers can enjoy Oatly from the comfort of their homes during this time where most prefer to avoid crowds.”

She adds: “Our presence in Singapore is now at around 600 outlet points, including partnerships with over 330 speciality cafés and chain coffee shops such as Starbucks.”

In addition to its dairy-free milk, Oatly has now launched a vegan ice-cream in Singapore – the first market in South East Asia where this is available. Chan claims initial feedback has been very positive and says she is looking forward to cementing its connection with local consumers and encouraging them to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

“In a survey of 1,000 respondents in Singapore that we conducted with Ipsos, we found there is a lot more room for building up public awareness by educating consumers on the benefits and impact of consuming plant-based milk.

“A third of respondents said that they have not heard of plant-based milk and nearly three-in-four are not familiar with its benefits.”

Chan continues: “What was interesting was that we uncovered some of the common misconceptions that consumers in Singapore had – for example, two-in-five respondents thought that plant-based milk was made from adding artificial extracts to water, and nearly half of respondents said that it was hard to achieve a balanced and healthy diet with plant-based milk. Yet over half of the respondents say they would consider switching from cow’s milk to plant-based milk if they knew more about its health and sustainability benefits.”

To help drive real behavioural change in favour of more sustainable and healthy lifestyle choices, Oatly has brought its ’The New Milk’ campaign to Singapore. The campaign seeks to educate consumers on alternative options that do not harm animals or the planet’s resources, encouraging them to rethink what ’milk’ means.

Oatly has bought bus-stop advertising across 150 locations in the island state and is working with health influencers with vegetarian and sustainability interests to promote plant-based milk in the masses.

“Our aim is to continue expanding our presence in Singapore and make Oatly more accessible to our consumers here, which we hope will ultimately help consumers make the swap to plant-based products more easily,” explains Chan.

“A next step will also be to bring in a wider range of our oat-based products to Singapore to expand the options that they have, and encourage more sustainable consumption to make our world better, which can begin from the milk and products we consume every day.“

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