Boring approach: NZ’s first commercially mass-produced ‘local’ oat milk firm targets APAC expansion

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

New Zealand’s first locally mass-produced oat milk brand Boring Oat Milk has its eye on the discerning APAC-wide coffee crowd after a successful domestic supermarket launch
New Zealand’s first locally mass-produced oat milk brand Boring Oat Milk has its eye on the discerning APAC-wide coffee crowd after a successful domestic supermarket launch

Related tags oat milk plant-based plant-based dairy

New Zealand’s first locally mass-produced oat milk brand Boring Oat Milk has its eye on the discerning APAC-wide coffee crowd after a successful domestic supermarket launch, and is confident that its ‘whisper, not shout’ strategy will stand out on shelves.

Boring Oat Milk claims to be the first and only oat milk brand to be made at scale locally using local oats, and that just 1% of plant-based milks on New Zealand store shelves are actually made in New Zealand.

“We are the first oat milk brand to be mass producing oat milk in New Zealand, making some 50 million litres a year at our facility,”​ Boring Oat Milk Founder Morgan Maw told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“There may be some small kitchens that make their own oat milk at pilot scale but these are not in supermarkets, and most of the oat milks sold by larger supposedly ‘New Zealand’ brands are made in Sweden and brought in here, as many have tried and failed to implement the production of oat milk locally.

“Setting up local production took us about three years to accomplish – even going through the food compliance process with Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) took about two years. But it was definitely worth the effort because there is such huge potential here – in 2020 alone, the oat milk market in Australia and New Zealand grew by 270%.”

Boring just made its market debut in September 2021, but has already secured placement on major New Zealand supermarket shelves, including New World, Pak’nSAVE, Countdown and more.

“Our first target consumer demographic is millennials, not just because of their higher environmental, health and transparency demands which we can fulfil – but also because of the growing coffee scene within this group,”​ said Maw.

“Discerning coffee consumers especially are searching for specialist coffee, and along with that they will want a specialist milk to go with that coffee – we already know that this is happening here in New Zealand, and we are also seeing a rise in coffee consumers in other parts of the Asia Pacific region looking for good milk.

“Oat milk is a ‘gateway’ plant-based milk due to its creaminess and neutral taste, and importantly it also does not split in coffee like almond milk does, nor affect the taste like soy milk.”

The firm’s strategy to grab the eye of consumers has been to go the opposite route of what most brands would, e.g. colourful, eye-catching packaging – but instead stand out by being more muted.

“With so many plant-based milk brands out there, it’s difficult to stand out on shelves and everyone is trying to grab attention – so we decided to be really different from what others look like, and whisper instead of shout,”​ said Maw.

“The idea here is that because the market is so busy, simply peeling it back and being more ‘boring’ means we will be being disruptive and will stand out.

‘At any rate, we also feel that the milk is meant to be boring anyway, it’s just the supporting actor of the drink – the real star would be the coffee or the smoothie you’re adding the milk to, so this should resonate well.”

The firm currently has two products – the original oat milk, and the Barista Grade version. The original version is priced at NZ$4.99 for a 1L pack, whereas the Barista Grade goes for NZ$5.29 for a 1L pack – comparable with larger brands such as Oatly.

“Both of these are made with the same local ingredients – oats, sunflower oil and salt – but the difference with the Barista Grade is that there is slightly more sunflower oil and higher pH so that it does not split with the coffee and also foams even better than the original,”​ said Maw.

“The target is to sell 1.5 million litres in our first year in New Zealand, and our value proposition and comparable pricing should help us to do that.”

Expansion plans

Unsurprisingly, the firm’s next target market is Australia, where it will be entering by the end of this year.

“We will go via the route of partnering with coffee companies, cafes and selling in independent grocers first to gain ground and build the brand locally – then the next step will be to look at supermarkets,”​ she said.

“Asia is definitely a key market for us too – we also aim to enter Singapore and Hong Kong at the start of 2022.

“China is a big market we are also looking at, and we are being very careful there as we want to really understand the consumer and their coffee and plant-based milk preferences before going in. But the potential is really huge with the rising middle class and consumer openness to international brands that present themselves differently from others – like what we are doing – so it is also very much of interest.”

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