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NZ’s First Homegrown Oat Milk Company Launches ‘1% Fund’ Supporting Kiwi Farmers To Grow More Oats

Otis, the first New Zealand oat milk made from homegrown oats, will now be available to buy nationwide thanks to a new supply deal inked with Countdown. The deal will see Otis cartons lining shelves around the country in Countdown, New World, Farro and Moore Wilson, and its online store.

The announcement coincides with the company’s launch of its 1% Fund today.

The 1% Fund is an initiative by Otis to help diversify farming by supporting New Zealand farmers to grow oats.

“Otis wants to help Kiwi farmers lead the way in farming for the 21st century - a way of farming that’s more diverse, more plant-based and one that works in harmony with nature, not against it,” says Otis co-founder Chris Wilkie.

“No surprises, but we think the mighty oat holds many of the answers. That’s why from today we are dedicating 1% of our total sales to fund projects and initiatives that make oats a viable and exciting farming alternative.”

Founded by Wilkie and Tim Ryan in 2018, Otis Oat Milk has a strong underlying philosophy to lead a plant-based revolution.

“We are on a mission and our revolution will have farmers and people at its heart, to help the world change from intensive dairy farming to environmentally friendly alternatives.

“Oat milk is the perfect milk for the future. Research globally shows oat milk’s footprint is much lighter; producing one litre of oat milk requires 11 times less land and 13 times less water than producing one litre of dairy milk. That one litre of oat milk also emits three and a half times fewer greenhouse gas emissions than its dairy equivalent,” says Ryan.

Wilkie and Ryan say they are “very much” at the beginning of their journey with the fund. They plan to connect with researchers, thought leaders and farmers, to find out what the barriers are to growing oats, what scientific work could contribute to the project and where farmers may need the most support. Funds will be collected and research undertaken over the next year.

“By gaining a deeper understanding of the opportunities, by September 2022 we aim to channel the first years funds in the direction of the biggest impact, whilst ensuring it’s delivered in a way that sees both our rural communities and environment thrive,” says Ryan.

Wilkie says that while intensive dairy is big business in Aotearoa, Kiwis need to be courageous and start diversifying what they put in their supermarket trolley”.

“It’s depleting our nation’s soil, is a large contributor to our nation’s emissions, and pollutes our waterways. Oats on the other hand, suck carbon from the air, pull nitrogen from the soil and use hardly any water. Plus they don’t burp, fart or urinate. We think these are compelling reasons to start diversifying our agriculture and for there to be more investment in dairy alternatives.”

Otis Oat Milk has a creamy yet neutral taste and dairy-like consistency, and is free from dairy, soy, nuts and is vegan friendly. Oat milk has twice the dietary fibre than cow’s milk making it an excellent choice for adding fibre to your diet for healthy digestive functions. The beta glucan found in oats form a gel-like substance when it mixes with water. This gel coats the stomach and digestive tract and also feeds good bacteria in the gut, which increases their growth rate

Beta-Glucan is a soluble dietary fibre found in oats that are strongly linked to improving cholesterol levels; in fact just 3g of soluble fibre each day can help by lower cholesterol.

Otis oat milk is fortified with calcium, D2, riboflavin and B12.

“Oats are a wonder food,” says Wilkie. “We know Kiwis are increasingly looking for clean products that are not only good for the planet, but good for their bodies, and tasty to boot.”

Otis works with the New Zealand Oat Growers group and around 70 arable farmers who operate a crop rotation system.

“A farmer may typically rotate from grazing pasture to oats for an autumn harvest, followed by barley and peas and then to a ryegrass seed crop or vegetable and back to pasture. This healthy cyclic farm management provides the soil with constant variants while each crop performs a different duty. The oats act as a natural ‘catch crop’ for excess nitrogen that might be in the soil, preventing any run off entering waterways,” says Ryan.

The Otis range is available in 1 litre cartons, and includes an Everyday milk, perfect for on muesli, in smoothies, in a cuppa or on its own; and a Barista milk, created to pair with any coffee bean roast profile, producing the perfect flat white with a velvety smooth finish.

Otis Everyday oat milk 1lt, RRP $5.50, and Otis Barista oat milk 1lt, RRP $6.00 from Countdown, New World, Moore Wilson, Farro and

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