Oat milk sales pass soy to claim second in the US plant-based milk market

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Plant-based milk showed strong growth in the US retail sector, as oat milk saw a massive rise to edge past soy and became the second-most popular alt-milk.

Plant-based milk retail sales in the US rose 17% in the last year to $2.36 billion, with oat passing soy as the second-largest dairy alternative in the country behind almond milk, according to the latest data by SPINS.

While almond milk largely dominates the sector with a massive 63% share (with sales up 13% to $1.5 billion), oat milk has skyrocketed with a 304% sales surge to $213 million, edging past soy, which saw a 4.5% decline in sales to $2.2 million.

Oat milk’s refrigerated sales were up 351%, to $192 million, and its ambient sales rose by 106% to $21 million. Pea and coconut milk have also seen an increase, with the former up by 12% and the latter 16%.

The data also showed that rice milk, at $45 million, was the fifth most popular dairy alternative, just above pea milk, which has $43 million in sales.

There was a time when it was the market leader with over $1 billion in sales, but soy milk — often labelled the original alt-milk — has seen a gradual decline over the last decade, as almond and then oat took shelves by storm.

Smaller nut milks like walnut and pecan were also down in sales, while cashew and flax milk saw a rise in refrigerated sales but a decline in shelf-stable purchases. Even smaller categories — seed blends, nut blends and macadamia milk, have shown strong growths.

Even in the UK, oat milk has seen a massive rise in sales, with 113% growth in Waitrose alone in the last year. Oatly — the world’s leading oat milk maker — is now worth $2 billion, courtesy of a controversial $200 million investment from Blackstone. And now, reports suggest the Swedish company is considering an IPO in 2021, which could take its value to $5 billion.

Anay Mridul
Anay Mridul
Anay is journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.