Oat drink company to open Fort Worth plant; similar company eyeing area

Oatly courtesy image

A company that aired a Super Bowl commercial with a song featuring one of its slogans, “Wow, no cow!” is opening a production facility in the Town of the Cow.

Oatly, the world’s largest oat drink company, plans to open a 280,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing center at 7550 Oak Grove Road, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce announced on Aug. 11.

“Fort Worth is dedicated to being a business-friendly city that is also committed to the health and well-being of our residents,” said Mayor Mattie Parker. “I’m excited to welcome Oatly, a company built on promoting personal well-being and sustainability, to Fort Worth, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact the company will have on the people in this town through many well-paying jobs and people around the world through its sustainability-focused philosophy.”

The plant is expected to create more than 100 jobs once completed in 2023 and will produce the company’s line of oat milks. The footprint expansion comes as the oat milk category more than doubled in the U.S. in 2020 from the prior year according to Nielsen, fueling demand for Oatly’s products to outpace current supply. In May, Oatly Group of Malmo, Sweden, went public on the Nasdaq, with the OTLY symbol.

- FWBP Digital Partners -

Once a niche product designed for people who were lactose intolerant, Oatly oat milk is now on the menu at Starbucks, in the grocery aisle at Target and sold online by Alibaba in China.

And Oatly, which is based in Malmo, Sweden, thinks oat milk has a lot more growth ahead. Global sales of plant-based dairy substitutes reached $18 billion in 2020, or just 3% of the $600 billion dairy industry, according to Euromonitor.

Oatly’s Fort Worth facility will produce an estimated 150 million liters of oat milk annually and will have the largest footprint of the company’s three North American facilities. Oatly’s new factory is the third production facility for the company in North America, joining its facilities in Millville, NJ and Ogden, UT. Built for the future, the factory will have ample space for expansion even after it starts producing oat milk. The facility will be one of nine facilities around the world the company will open by 2023, as it expands to further its mission of growing the plant-based movement and shifting the food system toward one that’s built for planetary and human health. Oatly reported $477 million in revenue in the first quarter.

“Every time someone decides to take their coffee with oat milk or have an Oatgurt for their afternoon snack, we believe they’re making a choice that’s healthier for them and the planet. And more and more people are making those choices every day,” said Oatly President North America Mike Messersmith. “We’re excited to break ground on this factory in Fort Worth, which we believe will allow us to meet the growing demand for Oatly’s products and grow our positive impact on the planet.”

- Advertisement -

All employees at the Oatly Fort Worth facility will receive the same benefits as all others who work at Oatly US plants located in Ogden, Utah, and Millville, New Jersey. These include access to all Oatly’s health, wellness, leadership and sustainability learning programs, full medical, vision and dental benefits, 20 vacation days, paid sick and holiday days, up to 20 paid weeks of parental leave, and comparable eligibility for the company’s Incentive Award Plan.

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce worked closely with Oatly and the City of Fort Worth throughout the entire development process. Brian Corde and Ann Petersen from Atlas Insight LLC, a site selection firm based in Freehold, New Jersey, helped Oatly arrive at this strategic location decision based on key sustainability, workforce and geographic criteria.

“We are thrilled to welcome Oatly, an established, global brand to Fort Worth,” said Chris Strayer, Executive Vice President of Economic Development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. “Our central U.S. location, affordable land with room to grow, and skilled manufacturing workforce will be an excellent home for Oatly.”

In late January, the Fort Worth City Council approved an economic development agreement with Oatly for the development of the production facility. Oatly currently has two production facilities in New Jersey and Utah.

- Advertisement -

And there may be more oat milk production on the way to Fort Worth, or at least North Texas.

Edina, Minnesota-based SunOpta Inc. (Nasdaq:STKL) (TSX:SOY), a leading healthy food and beverage company focused on plant- and fruit-based foods and beverages and fruit-based foods and beverages is planning a Dallas-Fort Worth plant.

“I am pleased to announce that we are in the final stages of negotiating a lease for the construction of a new mega-facility in the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” said Joe Ennen, CEO of SunOpta, in a news release discussing the company’s financial results for the second quarter. “At 275,000 square feet in size, this greenfield facility is by far the largest capex project we have undertaken and will support significant long-term growth in our plant-based business. We expect the facility to be operational by late 2022.”

SunOpta has a customer base that includes Starbucks, Target, Whole Foods Market, and other retailers.