Brand Strategy Oatly Coffee

Oatly throws the rulebook at ‘Big Dairy’ over barista competition monopoly


By John Glenday, Reporter

September 30, 2022 | 3 min read

Oat milk brand Oatly is seeking to challenge the rules of a major barista tournament that only allows the use of cow’s milk.

coffee machine

Oatly has raised a complaint about a barista competition that disqualified oat milk / Unsplash

Swedish dairy alternative brand Oatly is taking the World Barista Championship to task over an ’outdated’ rule restricting competitors to the use of cow’s milk.

Accusing organizers of the coffee-making competition of being beholden to ’Big Dairy’, the oat drink brand points to the exclusion of alternative forms of milk in competition rules for making espressos.

Branding the restriction ’ridiculous’ Oatly contends that it is the perfect partner for roasted coffee beans and the planet as it is not dependent on methane-belching dairy cows.

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Warning that the competition risks falling behind the times as consumers adopt plant-based drinks, Oatly called on organizers at the Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) to rip up the rulebook and change with the times. it also supplied a series of condescending suggestions for other outdated rules included forcing competitors to arrive by horse-drawn carriage; insisting that judging be conducted in Latin and resorting to a duel at sunset as a tiebreaker.

Toby Weedon, head of Oatly’s barista development team in EME, explained: “The SCA are meant to represent us as coffee professionals, yet we are seeing an increasing number of disenfranchised baristas who no longer want to compete because they don’t consume animal products.

“There has been an amazing rise in plant-based coffee consumption across the planet. For example, most cafés we speak to in London are serving more coffee with oat drink than cow’s milk, and some Sydney cafes are reporting that over 80% of orders are for plant-based alternatives.“

Seeking to spark a broader backlash through the spread of internet memes mocking the exclusive use of dairy, Oatly wants to build support for a resolution that would change the rules.

Oatly has previously been sanctioned by the ASA over ’misleading’ environmental claims after it omitted to use the word ’probably’ in citing expert opinion.

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