Oatly

If you truly don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, then the reaction to the lack of Oatly available to online shoppers during the opening weeks of the pandemic pretty much clinched at least a nomination for brand of the year from the start. If 2019 was the year that the brand broke through and raised oat milk as a leading new innovation in the beverage business, 2020 was the year that it became an important, established category. Investors responded in a highly significant way -- to the tune of $200 million -- and the company unleashed a marketing wave to match its remarkable sales and operation capacity. Early next year, the company is set to open its second U.S. production facility, which CEO Toni Petersson has said will allow the company to up the pace of innovation and double -- or triple -- its national retail presence in the coming year. Though he has already declared the brand the “market leader” of oat milk, Oatly has a ways to go, of course, to truly fulfill all the expectations that investors, retailers, and consumers see for it; there’s competition, not just from other oat milk brands but from other types of dairy alternative ingredients as well. But there’s no conversation about any of it without Oatly, and it’s well-positioned, well-funded, and well-run for the long race ahead.