WIDE Open Agriculture (WOA) is assessing the feasibility of producing its OatUP oat milk in its home state of Western Australia as the company expands its distribution network.
The ASX-listed company currently sources oats from two growers in WA’s Shire of Williams, and ships them to Italy for processing into OatUP, which officially launched in February.
OatUP milk is then shipped to Australia, and is now available in more than 150 cafés and retail locations in total in South Australia and Western Australia.
WOA managing director Ben Cole said the company was striving to bring its oat-milk manufacturing to WA to offer a “WA grown-and-made proposition to Australian and Asian markets”.
“We are looking at a number of sites, both regional and closer to Perth,” Dr Cole said.
WOA’s board, which includes large-scale WA farmer and co-founder of The Liebe Group, Stuart McAlpine, is currently assessing a pre-feasibility study for a plant-based milk manufacturing facility in WA.
“The board is now considering our feasibility study and we intend to have a clearer position by the end of this calendar year,” Dr Cole said.
WOA is tight-lipped about its oat volumes, but in a statement released last week, it said it was expanding its network of distributors and retailers beyond as well as within WA.
The company has completed packaging prototypes for multiple markets, beginning with South-East Asia, and said initial orders of its OatUP oat milk have been placed in Singapore.
“Our early conversations have been positive and we do hope to confirm an Asian distributor by the end of June.”
WOA said market testing and tasting has commenced in Hong Kong and Thailand as well as Singapore, and initial discussions were under way with potential customers and partners in the United States and Europe.
WOA said it was also looking at adding its proprietary lupin protein to OatUP to increase the milk’s protein level.
This would allow the product to compete more strongly against soy and dairy milks which have slightly higher protein levels than traditional oat milks.
OatUP is available online in some other Australian states through the product’s website, and through WOA’s digital Dirty Clean Food platform, which also retails meat, poultry, seafood and vegan products.
OatUP is certified as carbon neutral, which WOA said differentiates it from competitors at the point of sale.
It is made from oats grown from regenerative farming practices, in line with all the products marketed through Dirty Clean Food.
WOA has reported growing demand for OatUP in the global oat milk market, which it says is worth US$3.7 billion and is experiencing “promising commercial tailwinds”.
It quotes figures which estimate the sector’s compound annual growth rate of 9.8pc each year to 2027, with sales outpacing more established alternative milk types like almond and soy.
Investor appetite for oat milk is also said to be at an all-time high.
Swedish oat-milk maker Oatly last month had its first initial public offering and is now listed on the NASDAQ.
It has oat factories in Sweden, the United States, and The Netherlands, and has plans to build one in the United Kingdom.
Oatly is one of several oat milk brands available in Australia.