30 October 2020

Friday Freakout:

Milk Politics

By Jess Arvela
Head of Sales & Marketing | Co-Founder

Five days ago, Oatly posted on their Instagram feed that the amendment 171 had passed in the EU Parliament the week prior.

Figure 1. Source: Oatly Instagram

The amendment linked to dairy related products, banning the use of the words “cheese”, “yoghurt”, and “milk” in products that do not contain dairy milk. It goes pretty far, stipulating you can’t even use “alternative to cheese”, “yoghurt style”, “butter-substitute”, or “vegan-cheese” in the marketing of plant based replacements. 

Had a bit of a Google and wondered why you’d want to claim this title anyway…

Figure 2

There are two issues, one, using the original item: i.e. cheese as a comparison in order to understand the intention of the product just makes sense. Like vegan-cheese. It’s not claiming to be cheese, it’s claiming to be a replacement for cheese.

Issue two: they are preventing companies from mentioning how their product is better for your health or the environment than the original (or what it aims to replace). If a litre of cow’s milk generates 293% more greenhouse gas emissions than a litre of oat drink”, doesn’t it make damn sense to say so in order for people to make educated decisions?

The semantics of what word you use to describe a product seems to assume the worst in a consumer, that they can’t make that distinction. The second issue I feel is more detrimental. How could it be possible that you cannot place facts in your marketing? Facts that encourage the health and wellness of both the user and their environment. Watch this video for a short overview.

The issue here is corporations having power in policy. The idea of coming up against industry wasn’t unintentional for Oatly’s self professed “fearless” creative directors, John and Michael back in 1994: “I was sitting in a cafe and he just asked me if I wanted to start a war with the milk industry all over the world. And I was just like, yeah, OK, sure.”

I guess this is about the link between food, climate change, lobbyist power and woeful government. I have been known to take a knife to a block of Edam and have it for dinner. But you know what, I care more about the Amazon rainforest, the remaining 50% of the Great Barrier Reef, and the rapidly thawing permafrost in the Arctic, more than my momentary serotonin hit from some solidified cow juice.

We are currently heading to 4 degree Celsius (Figure 3) – how can we get caught up in the $ and the politics on something that has so much power (Figure 4) to influence this temperature increase?

Figure 3. Source: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WG1AR5_Chapter12_FINAL.pdf


Figure 4. Source: https://drawdown.org/solutions/table-of-solutions

Note: also aware of issues with Oatly ties to Trump and Amazon deforestation.

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