I’m often asked what it’s like to work for Oatly, the short answer would have to be totally OATSOME! This blog offers insight into my journey and what an average day looks like for me.
I’ve been a dietitian for over 35 years and really don’t know where the time has gone. I worked in the NHS for 10 years, then another 10 working for a large food manufacturer. I then decided that setting up my own company would be the way forward for me, giving me the flexibility I needed (as I had two small children) and the autonomy I craved.
As a plant-based eating foodie with a keen interest in sustainability, Oatly was a perfect fit for me professionally and I’ve now been working ‘in oats’ for seven years.
When I started, Oatly had just four UK products, now it has 24! The brand had 99% growth in 2020 year-over-year* and is now the highest selling brand in the oat category by retail sales value, which is the largest category within dairy alternatives in the UK. In 2020, Oatly drove 49% of plant-based milk growth in the United Kingdom**. This growth means that sometimes we are ‘running to keep still’, for example, continuously preparing for new product launches and training new employees.
We are a small team of three Dietitians/Nutritionists - two in Sweden and just me in the UK. Working on one the Oatly key pillars (nutritional health) means we are always busy, regarded as valued members of the team and frequently impactful.
The best example of this impact has got to be iodine. As a dietitian, I am a firm believer in the importance of our (vitamin and mineral) enrichment programme and the company is just as committed. Whilst some companies quest for ‘cleaner’ (read shorter) food labels has meant a move away from enrichment, we remain committed to the programme, believing it is vital in helping people to maintain optimal health whilst shifting from animal-based dairy to plant-based products. This view is echoed in the BDA's policy on food fortification here
Whilst all our drinks (except organic drinks) were enriched with calcium, riboflavin and vitamins B12 and D, until 2019, whilst iodised salt was used in manufacture, drinks were not enriched with iodine. In 2019 after extensive research and consultation by the nutrition team (in conjunction with other colleagues) we decided to enrich with iodine.
This decision meant all Oatly drinks (except organic drinks) were also enriched with 22.5μg/100ml iodine. This has been extremely positively received as awareness of the important role of iodine to good health has grown. Personally, I feel proud to have been an instrumental part of this change, which I believe will have had a significant and positive impact on the health of consumers.
It’s true to say no two days are alike. The work of the nutrition team includes input into new product development (NPD), event management, public affairs, training of all new employees, as well as advising on marketing campaigns (for which Oatly receives global acclaim!).
I have flexibility in terms on when, where and how I work; and whilst I feel a valued member of the team, I have the autonomy that is key to my job satisfaction. I love what I do and feel I totally found my dream job!
* according to IRI Infoscan
** according to Nielsen and IRI Infoscan