Otis oat milk manufacturing returns home to New Zealand
Ever since launching their company in Lincoln, Canterbury, in 2018, Otis co-founders Tim Ryan and Chris Wilkie have been on a mission to return to making their oat milk in New Zealand.
Due to a lack of a local factory with the technology required to produce oat milk to the company’s standards, Otis was shipping New Zealand oats to Sweden for manufacture.
“The journey to setting up our own factory has been long and hard and has involved seven feasibility studies over eight different sites across Aotearoa, costing a lot of money and years of graft for our small start-up,” Ryan said.
“We’re thrilled to have finally cracked this in a partnership with Auckland-based Free Flow, signing on as their first customer with Otis rolling off their lines from late 2023.”
The Free Flow manufacturing plant will be capable of making 50 million litres of plant-based beverages each year and is being developed with Sweden’s Angie Triantafyllou, known as the ‘godmother of modern oat milk’. With many patented innovations, Triantafyllou was a co-founder of Oatly and is now chairman of the board at Swedish plant-based technology company Cerealiq.
She said Otis was the first oat milk maker in New Zealand to use Cerealiq’s patented enzyme technology.
“The new facility will produce oat milk to the world-class standard levels of beta-glucan, the nutritional gold ingredient found in Otis and premium oat milks. It helps the body to maintain stable cholesterol levels,” Triantafyllou said.
Ryan said Free Flow and Cerealiq’s technology will be available to other plant-based beverage makers in New Zealand.
He and Wilkie started Otis Oat Milk with a strong underlying philosophy that food has the power to change the world.
The company works closely with the New Zealand Oat Industry Group, Harraways, as well as around 50 farmers who operate a crop rotation system to ensure the oats remain nutritional.
According to Ryan, plant-based milk alternatives have skyrocketed in recent years to outpace traditional dairy milk. In New Zealand, grocery spending on plant-based milk increased by 44% from 2019 to the end of 2022, with sales jumping from $61 million to $88 million.
“We’re beyond excited to return Otis’s manufacturing to its home in Aotearoa. It’s been a hard slog to find the right partner to make our world-class milk in New Zealand, but we’ve cracked it, and finally we can say Otis is 100% homegrown — from crop to cup,” Ryan said.
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