Swedish plant-based milk brand Oatly is to begin production from its first UK factory in early 2023, creating at least 200 new jobs and supporting British oat farmers.

The new factory, located in Peterborough, is expected to begin functioning in Q1 2023 and the brand says sustainability has been ‘at the heart of the planning process’. It is expected to produce 300 million litres of oat drink per year at point of launch, with capacity set to increase to 450 million litres, positioning it as one of the world’s largest plant-based factories.

“Oatly is working to ensure the new factory brings value to people and the planet without recklessly taxing the planet’s resources,” says the brand in a statement. “The new factory will continue Oatly’s drive to create a systemic shift in society and the food system towards plant-based.”

The new factory will continue Oatly’s drive to create a systemic shift in society

This move to manufacture in the UK comes as part of a wider initiative from the brand to ‘build factories fit for the future’, using resources efficiently and causing ‘minimal negative impact on the planet’. Oatly aims to use 100% renewable energy and to decrease its water consumption and waste output by 75% by 2029 at each of its manufacturing sites.

According to CarbonCloud data, Oatly Barista Edition retailed in the UK generates approximately 70% less CO2 emissions than British cow’s milk; the brand hopes that increased UK production of Oatly will mean plant-based dairy becomes ‘more accessible for people to switch to, helping them reduce their climate impact’.

Oatly confirms the oats used for its products will be sourced domestically across the UK and that the new Peterborough factory will supply the UK market.

Employing some 200 additional UK workers, the company says health and safety of staff will ‘be placed at the forefront’, adhering to Oatly’s global standards ‘to ensure people feel safe, valued and empowered whilst working to help protect the planet’.

The UK is a really important driver of the global plant-based movement

Ishen Paran, general manager, Oatly UK, says: “Questions about a potential UK factory have been circulating for a while, and we’re really excited to finally announce the news of its arrival in 2023. The UK is a really important driver of the global plant-based movement, with a growing demand for Oatly across the country, and we’re excited to supply this increased demand.”

Johan Rabe, chief supply chain officer, adds: “We look forward to supplying the UK with more oat drink – we’re even more excited to do it in a sustainable way. Like everything we do at Oatly, we’ve ensured that sustainability is core to our factory planning. Everything, from the sourcing of our oats, to the production of our product range specifically designed for humans, has sustainability at the heart of it. Even as we strive to grow one of the biggest plant-based dairy factories to its full capacity, this will still be our top priority.”