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Breaking alt-milk news: Oatly says there’s an oat-milk shortage but plans to restock ASAP


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Photo: Instagram/@oatly

If there’s one thing latte lovers and java nuts know to be fundamentally true, it’s that you don’t mess with a boss babe’s morning cup of coffee. Needless to say, it’s been a rough few weeks for those who opt for Oatly’s cult-favorite oat milk in their morning mug.

The brand’s Barista Edition oat milk (as well as its chocolate oat milk) is harder to get right now than a front-row seat in a Stacey Griffith SoulCycle class. And whether you get your fix at a local coffee shop or buy it in bulk online, you’ve likely been greeted with a discouraging (and morning-ruining!) “sold out” sign for a few days now.

The good news? Oatly’s on it.

“The plan is to keep the oat milk flowing.” —Mike Messersmith, Oatly general manager

“We’re a pretty small company here in the US,” Oatly’s general manager Mike Messersmith tells me. “The hope is always that when you love and create a product, that other people will love it too. But this response and enthusiasm has exceeded even our loftiest expectations.” Now the company is experiencing what Messersmith says “feels like a national shortage.”

Though Oatly isn’t a new company—it’s existed for more than 25 years in Scandinavia—it didn’t launch in the United States until late 2016, and the team here is small—which makes sense, considering the oat-milk demand has boomed stateside only in the past year or so, with few alternative options on the market (Pacific Foods and Elmhurst Milked are among the scant offerings). That’s where the challenges come in. “People love our product because of the quality,” Messersmith explains. “So we can’t cut corners on how we make it. That’s why it’s hard to scale fast and meet demand—you can’t make concessions on how the product is made. That’s why people love it to begin with.”

Oatly’s Barista Edition oat milk, which might cause less bloating than other alt-milks, is extra-popular because it gets nice and foamy thanks to its slightly higher fat content than the brand’s other offerings (meaning no coffee curdling!). There are no added sugars or thickeners, yet it’s naturally sweet. The Barista edition is the only Oatly product sold directly to coffee shop vendors and similar retail partners, but you can also buy it online to make your own unicorn latte at home.

So when can you enjoy your oat milk? The Oatly team is currently making tens of thousands of cases of oat milk every week, which Messersmith says is a huge step up in production. And don’t worry: Two truckloads are headed to NYC before the end of the week, and a lot is getting distributed to other markets as well. Furthermore, cartons of Barista Edition will be available for purchase on Oatly’s site in a few weeks, he adds.

“We have this mentality now that we need to make as much as we can all the time,” he says. “The plan is to keep the oat milk flowing. We haven’t seen the limit yet in terms of how much people are excited about this product, so we’re going to make a lot more so we can keep people super happy.”

Need a breakdown of the which milk could be best for you? We have you covered. And here’s where to get the best cup of coffee in the United States

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