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Sunday, October 24, 2021

New Zealand’s Otis oat milk accepts former Trump aide’s investment

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New Zealand-based oat milk brand Otis has accepted investment from former Trump deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell, making him a shareholder.

Donald Trump’s former chief of stuff Chris Liddell has become a shareholder in Otis oat milk, after the New Zealand-based brand accepted his investment.

Otis, which is New Zealand’s first local oat milk producer, said Liddell was one of 27 investors bought on by the brand in May. The New Zealander now owns just under 1.8% of the company, which aims to disrupt New Zealand’s traditional dairy industry.

Chris Wilkie, director of Otis, acknowledged that accepting investment from the former Trump aide could be spun in a “very negative way”. Last year, global oat milk leader Oatly faced widespread backlash and calls for a boycott after it acquired a $200 million investment from a group led by Blackstone, whose CEO Stephen Schwarzman was a Trump donor.

Read our exclusive interview with the activist who broke the issue that led to the Oatly boycott.

Wilkie highlighted Liddell’s involvement in schemes like Predator Free Wellington, noting that he has also previously chaired the environmental charity Next. “We were absolutely adamant we would not take any money from people who we did not believe genuinely valued our mission, which is a drive towards a more sustainable future,” he told Stuff.

“We looked at it on balance; for a New Zealander to have achieved what he has achieved, albeit a four-year period where… I probably wouldn’t agree with what he did,” he added, referring to his time in the Trump administration.

Wilkie further stated that he believed Liddell was looking to invest in a number of ethical and environmental companies. But he has not met or spoken with Liddell, who he described as a “completely passive” shareholder in Otis.

Read our story about the origins of Otis oat milk.

Anay Mridul
Anay is the managing editor of The Vegan Review. A journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.