At Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim this week, RISE Brewing Co. will debut its first product outside of the cold brew segment with the launch of an Organic Oat Milk, which one of the company’s founders Jarrett McGovern describes as “the best organic dairy-free milk we have ever had in the world.”
The oat milk, which will be available in May, is actually the same oat milk that the company developed to use in its award-winning nitro cold brew lattes and which the company says many consumers have asked if they could buy.
The launch follows the lead of several other major players who recently entered the oat milk segment, including Danone-owned Silk’s Oat Yeah, Califia Farms oat barista blend, HP Hood’s Planet Oat oatmilk, PepsiCo’s Quaker Oat Beverage and, of course, the Swedish company Oatly which helped pioneer the category in the US.
Despite the stiff competition, which RISE Brewing Co. Co-founder Grant Gyesky acknowledges offers very good products, the company saw room for improvement.
“If you look at all the oat milks that are coming out now, none of them are organic,” and many of them have long ingredients lists with gums, starches and other components that some consumers don’t want, Gyesky said.
“We build our platform of products on being organic, very simple ingredient lists and super high quality beverages. And when we applied that filter to what exists or what is coming out … none of them hits at what we think is the future of beverage, which is clean label, great tasting and organic,” he said, adding, “that is what differentiates us enough for us to say, ‘Okay, let’s go forward even though the space is more competitive.’”
Short on ingredients but not short on function
True to its claims, RISE’s organic oat milk has only four ingredients: filtered water, organic oats, organic sunflower oil and sea salt.
One reason the company was able to create an oat milk that is creamy and smooth and works well in hot and cold beverages without separating and still have a short ingredient deck is because it is not trying to compete against dairy milk.
Gyesky explained that many competing plant-based milks have long ingredient lists because they are trying to fortify their products with calcium, protein and other components to better mirror the nutrition profile of dairy milk. This then leads to them needing to mask flavors or emulsify additional components, which call for additional ingredients.
But creating an alternative to dairy milk was never RISE’s goal. Rather, Gyesky explained, the company wanted to create a standalone beverage that it think tastes better than dairy milk.
At the same time, he added, the company has nothing against dairy milk or people who want to drink it, which is why it offers nitro cold brew lattes made both with dairy milk and oat milk.
When the milk launches, the company will follow the same playbook it used to break into the competitive ready-to-drink coffee segment, said Gyesky.
This means focusing first on food service and distribution through offices where it already sells its nitro cold brew. It also will sell the product through its own website and on Amazon, both of which have been extremely successful for the company’s cans of cold brew.
“In short, we are approaching this the same way we did our coffees which is with volume and visibility. Volume is going to be places that offer smoothies, such as juice shops, or cafes where they use the milk to make lattes. And then for the visibility aspect of it, we plan to go into high-end places focused on quality, including restaurants and potentially even hotels,” McGovern said.
This is the same strategy that the wildly popular Oatly oat milk used which so much success that when it finally launched into retail, consumers scrambled to buy it at such a clip that it suffered from shortages.
RISE hopes to avoid this pitfall, but still expand into retail later this spring once it has established loyalty through other channels.