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Plant-based milk brand OatMlk eyeing massive expansion pan-India

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The brand is bullish on investments in technology and spends almost Rs 15000 per month on tech tools they use to streamline processes and operations

Bengaluru: Akash Wadhwani and Rishabh Gupta were victims of lactose intolerance. This gave them a chance to sample plant-based milk when living abroad. However, faced with a scarcity of healthy yet tasty options, when back in India, the duo decided to found a company of their own. This led to the start of OatMlk.

Driving the change

Plant-based milk such as soy milk, almond milk, and oat milk have recently made their way into cafe menus and Indian consumers’ shopping baskets. The category has made promising inroads with Indian consumers since OatMlk entered the market. Estimated at $21 million versus the animal-derived dairy industry at $140 billion, plant-based dairy in India is projected to grow at a CAGR of 20.7% to reach $63.9 million by 2024.

Akash Wadhwani and Rishabh Gupta, founders, OatMlk wanted to create a versatile product that could be loved and consumed by cafes, chefs, restaurants, retail stores, hotels, and institutions. Milk that was healthy, tasty, sustainable, and digestible is what they set out to offer to the market, keeping innovation at the forefront.

Even though the company is only a year old, the founders equivocally say that their experience with oat milk is not new and for over 18 years through varied experiences, they have learned to appreciate the power of oats as milk. “The introduction of oat milk into our lives happened at different stages but the adoration and appreciation met at a common ground. We decided to leave our jobs in London to try and create an India we envision, one we believe in. One that is capable of change, one that can direct people towards a healthier and sustainable future without compromising on taste and allow to broaden the vision of a dairy-obsessed country. We may only be an oat milk company, but we’re looking at the bigger picture and we’re here to show others that they can do the same,” Akash informs.

Hitting the market

When talking about the initial challenges that the duo had to navigate through, Rishab says, “For us, the initial challenges revolved around understanding food science, understanding nuances of the field and to actually develop something that was good, tasty and comparable to world class products. Our next hurdle was to sell the OatMlk we had developed. We did not have marketing budgets nor any ideas as to how a D2C brand functions or is supposed to execute sales. We did not know how to run ads or even get our first consumer. We did what we do best and try to fill in the shoes of the consumer. We started sampling our product. We wanted every single person to try it, understand it and explore whether they would buy it. This was the strategy and it has been working for us ever since. We sample heavily and want every person to try our product. This has become a part of the identity of our brand and has allowed us to create a strong customer base that is growing”.

The brand wants to adopt a responsible attitude, Risabh mentions “We believe in a better tomorrow and hence make oat milk that uses 80% less land, produces less than one-third the greenhouse gas emissions and uses just 4% of the water required to produce one-liter of dairy milk. Further, we manufacture locally, reducing carbon footprint compared to other oat milk being imported”. The brand aspires to be zero-waste and they recollect and filter water where possible. In addition, they aspire to use by-products of our production process to create food and other materials.

Growing positively

The brand envisions growing by fueling its focus on four mediums – TG, location, channels, and product Line. “We are slowly transitioning from launch to growth – Increasing user base through expanding user personas; penetrating tier 1 cities and starting to focus on tier 2 and tier 3 cities; Leveraging channels including HoReCa, retail, institutions, chefs, celebrities, baristas, influencers; And to broaden the product category from unsweetened oat milk to a few more offerings,” Akash highlights. The brand looks to explore the international markets of UAE/APAC/EU/USA in the next few years.

Brownie Points

  • Within just a year in the market, OatMlk has experienced almost a 21 times growth in revenue.
  • The brand is today present in almost all prominent marketplaces selling vegan products such as Amazon, Zepto, Blinkit, Flipkart, etc.
  • The brand is bullish on investments in technology and spends almost Rs 15000 per month on tech tools they use to streamline processes and operations. They also uniquely spend approximately, Rs 5 lakh on their process technologies, labs, and machinery, every month.
  • The brand is eyeing a massive expansion that helps them deeply penetrate the Indian market.

First appeared in The India D2C Yearbook 2022

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