The Real Reason Oatly Fans Are Boycotting The Oat Milk Company

Oatly, a Swedish company that makes oat-based versions of milk, ice cream, and cream cheese, says it is on a mission to combat climate change by replacing cow's milk. Oatly has done a lot of research to show that producing cow's milk creates considerably more greenhouse gases than producing oat milk does. So fans of Oatly who agree with its sustainable approach were shocked when they learned that Oatly sold a 10 percent stake in its business to a group led by Blackstone, an investment firm that has been linked to deforestation of the Amazon rain forest and support for U.S. President Donald Trump (via Green Matters). The Trump administration has taken more than 130 separate steps to stop fighting climate change, including pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement (via BBC).

Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman donated $3 million to a political action committee that supports Trump's re-election, according to CNBC. The United Nations also has accused Blackstone of contributing to the world housing crisis by inflating rents at its residential properties (via The Guardian). Unhappy Oatly fans have taken to social media to announce they are boycotting their favorite oat milk. This includes a Twitter user who calls herself Less Waste Laura, who said, "I'm not going to put my money into companies which can appear to be selling out to the highest bidder." 

Has Oatly gone to the dark side, or are they working within the system to make a better planet?

Blackstone investment firm sees growth potential in Oatly

Oatly has been active on Twitter, too, responding to its unhappy customers. "We want to create real, long-term change in areas where change is needed. By partnering with one of the world's largest private equity firms, we have an opportunity to shift money that may have gone towards a different type of investment directly towards a sustainable investment," Oatly tweeted. Blackstone's aim doesn't appear to be good or evil. The firm's motivation is profit. "Oatly is one of those companies that does well by doing good," Jon Korngold, Blackstone's head of growth investments, told TechCrunch. In its own statement about its partnership with Oatly, Blackstone said the oat milk company now will be able to expand globally and achieve its sustainability goals.

Some unlikely partners helped the big equity firm acquire a 10 percent stake in Oatly. Blackstone was joined in the Oatly investment by liberal celebrities Oprah Winfrey, famously vegan Natalie Portman, and Jay-Z's entertainment company (via The Wall Street Journal) "Our new partners' commitment to supporting us and furthering of our mission is a clear indication of where the world is heading, which is in a new, more sustainable direction," Oatly CEO Toni Petersson said in the Blackstone statement (via World Coffee Portal).

It makes sense that Oatly would seek outside help from investors. The company is growing fast, doubling its sales between 2018 and 2019, but has also lost money.