Otis returns production to NZ: world-class facility opens in Auckland

by | Jul 2, 2024 | News

About half a million litres of oat milk produced from premium South Island oats are rolling off a new production line in East Auckland this month – and Otis, the owners of New Zealand’s original oat milk brand, couldn’t be more thrilled.

“It’s taken us nearly five years to establish a first-of-its-kind, purpose-built New Zealand factory with the technology required to produce premium oat milks to the gold standard we make our oat milk,” says Tim Ryan, co-founder of Otis.

Ryan says the facility’s build is the culmination of an eighteen month project collaborating with the best-available New Zealand, German and Swedish food technology to create a world-class production facility for plant based milk.

Owned by premium beverage producer Free-flow Manufacturing, the facility boasts world leading enzyme technology developed by Sweden’s Angie Triantafyllou, known as the ‘godmother of modern oat milk’. The ex-Oatly founder is now Chairperson of the board at Swedish plant-based technology company Cerealiq.

“New Zealand farmers grow some of the highest quality oats globally. And with this facility, we’re producing arguably the highest quality oat milk in the world. We invite all New Zealand oat milk drinkers to try our optimised recipe and taste the difference in freshness, quality and flavour. We’ve raised the bar significantly for oat milk made in New Zealand,” said Ryan.

In 2018, Otis launched in Canterbury as New Zealand’s first oat milk producer.

As the business scaled up production, Ryan and co-founder Chris Wilkie worked with Cerealiq’s patented enzyme technology, ensuring premium quality and nutritional excellence in every drop of their oat milk. The New Zealanders were uncompromising on the nutritional quality of the product, and made a tough decision to safeguard the premium recipe by exporting New Zealand oats for manufacturing in Sweden.

Ryan and co-founder Chris Wilkie have been on a mission to return to making their oat milk in New Zealand.

Wilkie says, “It’s exciting that the technology is available in New Zealand for the first time, enabling Otis to produce the freshest, highest quality, nutritious and delicious oat milk in our homeland.

“This new facility will produce our oat milk recipe to the world-class standard levels of beta-glucan, the nutritional gold ingredient found in Otis oat milk. Beta-Glucan helps the body to maintain stable cholesterol levels and a healthy gut.”

Otis works closely with the New Zealand Oat Industry Group. The Group includes Plant Research, Harraways mill, and around 70 arable farmers using oat varieties that were optimised and developed over 20 years for the southern growing region, ensuring New Zealand-grown oats remain nutritionally superior to other varieties in the world.

The opening is also a significant leap for the New Zealand plant-based beverage industry. The technology and expertise housed within this plant advances New Zealand’s position as a leader in sustainable food innovation.

The business’ return to New Zealand comes at a time of consistent growth in the plant-based milk sector. With consumer preferences shifting towards consuming more sustainable options, globally oat milk’s dominance continues.

More Kiwis are drinking oat milk than last year with the beverage making up 41 percent of plant based milk sales in New Zealand, compared to almond milk at 27.3 percent (-0.3%), soy milk 23 percent (-1%) and coconut milk at five percent (+.3%)[1].

Otis’ new 100% homegrown oat milk will be on supermarket shelves nationwide from 1 July, available in 1 litre cartons in new and refreshed packaging.

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