Oat Milk Lovers Willing to Spend $25 For Out-of-Stock Cartons

Perpetually Out-of-Stock Oatly Vegan Oat Milk Has Customers Paying $25 a Carton on Amazon

If you’ve finally recovered from the $26-jar-of-almond-butter-crisis of 2015, there’s another hurdle for your healthy food fix–and it’s a steep one: vegan oat milk brand Oatly’s perpetual out of stock situation has some sellers charging $25 for a single carton of the stuff on Amazon.

Oatly, the Sweden-based oat milk brand that recently splashed into American lattes, has soared to rock star status in recent months. It’s as hot as Channing Tatum’s abs circa “Magic Mike” (before all the, er, lattes, eh, Channing?). It’s the Beyoncé of barista blends. But right now it’s as elusive as Trump’s taxes (and cabinet?).

If you’ve not had a latte made with oat milk there’s not much to help you understand what it does to coffee. You’ll just have to trust me on this. Oat milk in your coffee is a Channing then-versus-Channing-now situation where every other nondairy milk is a big, fat why-though. That’s not to say you shouldn’t drink your Channing-now almond, or god help you, coconut milk latte. It’s Channing in some form. Drink it. But you will close your eyes and dream of something else. There’s no question. (And there’s still no Oatly.)

But leave it to the gig economy to hustle that oat milk shortage into a bona fide profit model writ large with cases of Oatly’s Barista Edition selling for $200. That is, if you can find one to hustle.

Out of stock situations are nothing new to food producers, especially in the plant-based marketplace. Beyond Meat has faced months-long shortages of its vegan Beyond Burgers and Sausages. Its vegan breakfast sausage, which was supposed to debut last fall, still hasn’t made a retail appearance. The Beyond Burger launch in A&W restaurants in Canada was such a success that restaurants were trying to buy inventory off of each other. And good luck finding the brand’s Hot Italian Sausages anywhere.

Even Oatly is taking the stock issue with a sense of humor as it wrote on Instagram: “People love art. People do not love the idea of not being able to get their hands on a carton of oat drink. So maybe it will help if we provide something people love, like this art by @doot_doodles, while we talk about something people do not love, like our current supply issues. Or maybe it won’t help at all. It’s tough to know with these things. The point is, we hear you and we have a really solid plan to get you, and the world, all the oat drink you and the world could ever want, as soon as possible. In the meantime, we hope you might love the idea that more people than anyone ever guessed—and clearly way more than we ever guessed—are choosing plant-based over dairy.”

Oatly is spot on with its assessment of the soaring demand for vegan food in virtually any form. It’s way more than most people ever anticipated it would be. Just like the demand for “Magic Mike” live shows. Although, that’s a pretty easy sell compared to putting oatmeal in your coffee.

Still, dairy-free milk has been the clear category leader for plant-based product growth even despite dairy industry efforts to suppress labeling and sales. Nearly half of all consumers–vegan or not–now regularly purchase nondairy beverages. And 2019 is expected to see even more demand for vegan food across the board, with dairy-free milk still leading the way.

So, if Oatly does make it back to your local market shelves, grab a few shopping carts and load ’em up. And hustle, like screaming women are ripping off your clothes and stuffing money into your thong. Because if you don’t someone else is sure to get all the glory. These are desperate times. If $25 is the price to pay for the Channing Tatum of dairy-free frothiness, consider it a steal.

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