The Residue Ruckus

In 2018, we were taught a really valuable lesson from our most active vegan critics: Don’t sell your oat residue to pig farms.

When you make a lot of oat-based products, you’re left with a bunch of oat waste. More specifically, you’re left with tons of oat residue, like 100,000 plus tons of oat residue; that’s the protein-rich, fibrous, grey sludge that all of us at Oatly have come to love.

We decided that the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly use for this by-product was to ensure the nutrients in the grey sludge didn’t go to waste, so we sold it to local pig farms as animal feed. Some of our most passionate critics decided that wasn’t a suitable use for our residue, so they called for, you guessed it, another boycott.

It’s not that these critics were anti-pig, they were anti-eating pigs, which is a completely valid stance and one shared by many of our loyal consumers and employees. And as one activist pointed out to us, “You’re literally giving your plant residue to animals so that people can then eat them.”

Well said.

That complaint got us asking “What else can we do with all our oat residue?” There were lots of ideas. One outside consultant suggested we pay Oatly employees in oat residue. He even put together a whole presentation about how it would work. We decided to go in a different direction.

Instead, we began to develop prototypes for a new line of oat-based food made entirely from the by-product of our production processes. We also enlisted the help of outside science and academic-based organizations to help us solve the problem but inventing new food or other sustainable solutions takes longer than we (and our critics) hoped. Today, a lot is still used as animal feed and a portion is used as biogas or fertilizer. In the meantime, we focus on reducing the oat fiber residue per produced liter and our work with new by-product solutions continues.  We’re not quite ready to share all the details here, but we can confidently tell you that none of our ideas involve pigs. If for some reason you are feeling inspired to help us instead of hitting us with a stick, you can send us your ideas here.


What the internet said:

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