Swedish drinks company helps farmer shift away from livestock farming and cut climate impact with his own oat milk brand
Adam Arnesson, 27, is not your usual milk producer. For starters, he doesnt have any dairy cattle. Our first photo opportunity is in the middle of one of his fields of oats.
Until last year all these oats went into animal feed, either sold or fed to the sheep, pigs and cows he rears on his organic farm in rebro county, central Sweden.
With the support of Swedish drinks company Oatly, they are now being used to produce an oat milk drink tapping into the growing market for dairy alternatives across the country.
Livestock still provides most of the income of the 80ha farm Arnesson runs in partnership with his parents. But he wants that to change.
The natural thing for us would be to increase our livestock numbers, but I dont want a factory, he says. The number of animals has to be emotionally right so I know each of them.
Instead, Arnesson wants to grow more protein crops, such as oats, and sell them for human consumption rather than for feeding to livestock to produce meat and dairy.
The rearing of livestock and meat consumption accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Alongside carbon emissions from deforestation (for pasture or crops to feed animals), the livestock sector is also the single biggest human-related source of methane (from cattle) and nitrous oxide emissions (from fertiliser and manure), two particularly potent greenhouse gases.
On current trends, by 2050 we will be growing more crops to feed directly to animals than ourselves. Even small shifts to feeding crops to humans instead of livestock would lead to significant increases in food availability.
One company promoting itself heavily on the back of its claim to be tackling this issue has been Oatly. It has been causing controversy and has even been the target of legal action from a Swedish dairy trade group with its outspoken attacks on the dairy sector and its related climate emissions.
Ditch the cows, drink oat milk and save the planet, has been the gist of its marketing messaging, which has included a promotional video of CEO Toni Petersson singing Wow, no cow in a field of oats.
Petersson says the company is just telling people what the science tells us about the need to consume more plant-based foods.