I hang up on Dr. Jesson and sigh. “I’m going dairy free,” I announce to NW, who looks up from a steaming saucepan of creamy porridge. “Righto,” he says, and licks the spoon, rather inappropriately.
I’m not doing it for the health benefits. NC has been diagnosed as dairy intolerant and NG has, according to her nursery, developed a ‘milk dependency’ – i.e. she won’t drink anything else. I do the obvious thing and put it on twitter: can anyone recommend milk substitutes? The vote is actually quite overwhelming: Oatly.
Oatly started in the 1990s when research from Lund university in Sweden led to the company patenting enzyme technology to turn oats into nutritional liquid ‘perfectly designed for humans.’ Since then, the company has really sown its oats (sorry), had a legal battle last year with the milk industry and, two years ago, underwent a massive rebrand courtesy of maverick agency Forsman & Bodenfors whereby the CEO, Toni Petersson, starred in ‘nonchalent’ TV ads.
Anyway, to prove they are as nice as their packaging implies, Oatly sends me nearly the entire product range to try and lure me away from the cow.
“I want normal milk,” says NG after trying a few sips of the organic variety. “That is the normal one,” I say, not quite lying. She’s not convinced. And, initially, neither am I. Although Oatly doesn’t profess to being ‘just like milk’ in terms of taste, it really isn’t and takes getting used to. BUT. I grow to like it.
At the weekend, we have a little breakthrough. NW can’t find my milk to make his traditional Saturday lasagne, so we use Oatly. It tastes alright. Not delicious but, you know, healthy. Which, for a lasagne is quite an achievement. And NG adores the chocolate one. (Well, nursery did want her to drink something ‘more than just milk’). My neighbour, who is vegan, declares she likes it, too. I think the Duchess of Cambridge would also approve and I am beginning to see Oatly as a sort of quirky but friendly brand, which I think is what they would like. In fact, the proudly Swedish marketing copy on the cartons puts me in mind of the brilliant Scandi thriller, ‘The Bridge’:
“Swedish and independent – we know how it sounds. Blonde, beautiful, hard to get … no sense of attachment … sorry to disappoint you … we are boring, super practical, painfully honest, notoriously hard-working.”
Oatly, you are like the lovely Saga (Sofia Helin). Difficult to stomach sometimes. But in the end, I do want to have a drink with you. You are like ‘The Bridge’ for my troubled daughter. You do what you think is right. For that, I applaud you … even if I also like milk.
Take a bow, cow.
Disclaimer: I was provided Oatly samples for this review.
KEY TO CHARACTERS
Characters are abbreviated as follows:
NW – not William (husband and father)
NG – not George (daughter, sister and two and a half year old)
NC – not Charlotte (son, brother and four month old)
NL – not Lupo (a Labrador)