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Swedish plant-based brand Oatly has faced questions this week over how it disposes of oat residue after making its products.
According to the company, it sells the residue from its factory to a local pig farm – a move, it says, that is the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly.
This revelation caused mixed reactions among vegans.
Activist, Kate Louise Powell, said: “You’re literally giving your plant residue to animals so that people can then eat them?
“So disappointed in you.”
Another Twitter user added: “Very disappointed. [The factory in] Landskrona isn’t far from Malmo and Copenhagen.
“Surely there is a nearby animal sanctuary that could use the spent oats. Until then no Oatly for me.”
While some people pledged to ditch the product in light of the information, others said they would still consume it.
Following the social media discussion, Oatly has responded with a statement, which says: “The issues and comments you have shared with us are both extremely valid and highly complex.
“They have provided us with hours and hours of internal reflection and they deserve honest and thorough answers.
“Our ambition to be both the most transparent and sustainable company in the food industry doesn’t mean that we are by any means perfect.
“Our approach to sustainability is driven by scientific facts.”
According to company, bosses have looked at ‘every means possible’ in a bid to improve sustainability.
The statement says: “Yes, sending our production residuals to a local farm as feed has eliminated the unnecessary waste of nutrients and at the same time contributed to the production of biogas.
“And with the help of biogas our production plant has become totally carbon neutral.
“This accomplishment does not, however, free us from the need to constantly probe deeper in order to reach our other core objective – to promote plant-based nutrition over animal based nutrition in every way possible.”
Adding that consumers’ voices are an ‘important part of creating change’, the company pledged to re-visit the issue and look at alternative solutions.
It said: “Rather than serve you a wall of corporate babble, we ask that you allow us time to work through our thinking and provide you with a plan on how we plan to move forward sometime in the coming weeks.
“We trust that you will be here with your personal angle on things to scrutinise every word of our plan.”
Early reactions to the statement so far seem mixed.
One social media wrote: “So, you’re still not a vegan company, then?”
Another said most buying products from most companies supports animal agriculture directly or indirectly.
They added: “I like this brand, and how it has worked to be sustainable. I’m interested to see whether the feedback means they will stop selling to the pig farm.
“In the mean time, I still feel that it offers an ethical option – after all, many plant milk brands are owned by dairy companies, or bigger companies that make money from animal exploitation.”