When Demand Outpaces Supply: Oatly GM on Surviving a Shortage

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It’s the dream of almost every entrepreneur to have your brand become the next big, buzzed-about trend with product flying off the shelf, consumers writing love letters to it on Instagram, and competitors are moving into the space (and that means you must be doing something right). But what happens when your plan works too well? You didn’t prepare for just how popular it would be and your production facility has nowhere near the capacity you’ll need to keep up with your current customers. If you don’t get up to scale quickly, the entire company could come crashing down.

That’s what happened to Oatly, the Swedish oat milk brand that last year became a smash hit with consumers and baristas but was quickly plagued with out-of-stock issues as the company struggled to match supply with fast-rising demand.

Speaking during day one of BevNET Live Summer 2019, held June 12-13 in New York City, Mike Messersmith, U.S. general manager for Oatly, explained how he navigated the company out of this crisis and got production up to scale within a year. In this video, Messersmith offers his experience with Oatly as an example of how a commitment to transparency and communication helped the brand land on its feet without losing out to the competition.

Learn more about BevNET Live, the leading conference series for the beverage industry, at bevnetlive.com