Swedish brand Oatly files for U.S. IPO

2 Mar 2021

Swedish oat milk brand Oatly submitted its filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering on the U.S. stock exchange. This late February filing did not detail the number of shares Oatly proposes to release nor their price. JPMorgan, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley are underwriting the offering.

The company’s total valuation also remained confidential although Bloomberg reported recently that the company is worth $10 billion. In July, PitchBook cited the company’s valuation at $2 billion.

Swedish brand Oatly files for U.S. IPO
Wikimedia Commons

While its valuation remains up in the air, this plant-based brand has been enormously popular, and it has successfully closed multiple funding rounds, the most recent of which was its $200 million fundraising round led by Blackstone Group last July which went to increasing the company’s manufacturing capacity and distribution worldwide. That 10% stake in the company also attracted celebrity personalities, including Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, Jay-Z and the former CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz.

Filing for an IPO on the U.S. stock exchange has become a popular step for red-hot companies – particularly plant-based ones – looking to continue their expansion. Beyond Meat had its IPO in 2019 and became one of the most successful offerings of the year, and Laird Superfood also took the step to become public last year.

Oatly is notable among its peers because the company has progressively demonstrated growth, and the Wall Street Journal even reported that the company had been profitable in the past, a claim that not many rapidly-expanding companies can cite despite eye-popping valuation. Nevertheless, in recent years, Oatly has chosen to reinvest in its business, and this move has resulted in the company posting a loss on its year-end balance sheets.

Even with the company operating at a loss, its U.S. sales more than quadrupled last year to $213 million, making it the fastest growing brand in its category. Although astounding, such explosive expansion is not surprising when looking at the overall growth of oat milk in the U.S. last year. Nielsen data show that oat milk sales dollars were up 212% through Oct. 3 of 2020, which was the steepest increase within the food category. But for Oatly, that growth is not an anomaly.

The must-have dairy substitute has branched out from its iconic oat beverage to oat-based yogurt, cheese, frozen desserts and lattes, and the public has responded with glee. In 2019, the company produced 93% more of its oat milk than it did in 2018 and its sales grew a whopping 88% over the same year to reach $206 million, according to the company’s sustainability report. In part, this sustained growth is due to the oat milk maker’s partnerships with U.S. restaurants and cafes, including Starbucks. Worldwide, the brand is available in 20 different countries and over 50,000 locations.

Continued demand for meat and dairy alternatives plays in the favor of Oatly as the company strives to deliver better-for-you alternatives to popular dairy products. After three decades of making the product, investors appear confident in the company’s know-how and are ready to back its debut as a public company amid a market where demand for plant-based milk alternatives is nowhere near cooling off.