Swedish dairy-alternative company Oatly is hoping to capitalise upon the intersection of Chinese consumers’ love of coffee with the country’s high levels of lactose intolerance.
In 2016 the company launched in Hong Kong, where it is now available in supermarkets and as an option in Starbucks and Pacific Coffee, and has since opened an office in mainland China. In preparation for the launch, Oatly have even brought out a new Chinese character to signify “vegan milk”, in order to make clear to consumers the nature of their product, which may be unfamiliar to many Chinese.
Dairy has been a steadily growing share of the Chinese diet since the 1980s. China is now the third largest producer of milk as well as its largest importer, accounting for an eighth of global imports. However, it is estimated that around 92% of Chinese adults suffer from some form of lactose intolerance.