In 2019, Oatly introduced its vegan ice cream range to the UK market with three flavours. Now, it doesn’t show signs of stopping.
Ah Oatly, the polarising company in all vegans’ hearts and/or minds. Sure, it has the industry divided, with its witty and wacky ad campaigns, and its questionable investments and lawsuits.
But I digress: we’re here to talk about one particular product in its line. You can call it “dairy-free frozen dessert” but fuck that. It’s vegan ice cream. Oatly took its first step into the UK’s vegan ice cream market in 2019, when it released the Chocolate Fudge, Salted Caramel and Hazelnut Swirl flavours. Today, it has expanded the range to introduce two classic flavours: Vanilla and Strawberry.
So how does the world’s largest oat milk company make its plant-based ice cream? The oat base — just oats and water — is made in its factory in Landskrona, to which the manufacturer adds other ingredients depending on the flavour.
Oatly’s Chocolate Fudge — probably the most widely available — is a chocolate ice cream with tiny vanilla fudge pieces (10%). Alongside the Hazelnut Swirl, this is marketed as the brand’s luxury ice cream.
The oat base is met with sweeteners in the form of sugar, glucose syrup and dextrose. To these, Oatly adds rapeseed as well as fully hydrogenated (notorious for containing saturated fat) coconut and rapeseed oils, which helps the ice cream hold form and prevents it from spreading out. Then there’s 2.7% of cocoa powder, followed by more fat in coconut oil and cocoa butter.
This is when the hard-to-access ingredients really come into play. The Oatly ice cream has mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids as emuslifiers, cornstarch as a thickener, and locust bean gum and guar gum as stabilisers. Finishing the ingredient list are salt, cocoa extract, natural flavouring and plain caramel colour.
Let’s talk about the other luxury ice cream then, shall we? The Hazelnut Swirl is a caramel ice cream with a salted caramel sauce and candied hazelnuts It has the same sweeteners and fully hydrogenated oils, albeit in different quantities. The rest of the ingredients are the same, and 6% of the ice cream is made up of hazelnuts.
Speaking of, Oatly’s Salted Caramel ice cream has almost an identical ingredient list to the Hazelnut Swirl. The difference lies in quantities, the addition of tapioca starch as a replacement for cornstarch, and a change in colour from caramel to beta carotene. There’s also 10% salty caramel sauce in here.
Moving on to the simpler ones. The Vanilla is similar to the Salted Caramel, with the differences being a higher percentage of rapeseed oil, no starch, and the addition of vanilla seeds.
The Strawberry is refreshing in more ways than one. For starters, 15% of this is comprised of strawberries, which is more than the oats themselves. There’s also more sugar than oats here, and a little beetroot concentrate to aid the colour. It’s very pink.
So there you have it: Oatly’s vegan ice creams, dissected. We’re partial to the Chocolate Fudge — what’s your flavour?