Is Ireland On The Cusp Of A Plant-Based Revolution?

Oat-ly Poster
January 20, 2023

New research commissioned by Oatly shows three in ten Irish adults are planning to swap to more plant-based food and drinks in 2023

Consumption of plant-based dairy and meat alternatives looks set to hit the mainstream in Ireland in 2023 as new research commissioned by Oatly, the world’s original and largest oat drink company, reveals one third of shoppers are buying more meat and dairy alternatives than they did three years ago. And the trend shows no sign of slowing down, with three out of ten adults planning to make even more plant-based swaps in 2023.

Oat-ly Posters on display at train station

The research[1], conducted by Opinions Research, surveyed more than 1,000 adults across Ireland on their diets, attitudes towards climate change and dairy and meat alternatives.

Research Key Findings:

  • The popularity of plant-based products is being driven by all age groups under 50, with 18–24 year-olds and 25–34 year-olds the most likely to consider swapping to plant-based alternatives (42% and 48% respectively).
  • More than three quarters (76%) of Irish adults are concerned about climate change, with one in four (25%) citing it as the top reason for shifting to meat and dairy alternatives.
  • 25% said they choose plant-based products because they want to cut back on red meat and/or dairy for their health.
  • The role food production plays in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions is widely underestimated, with just one in ten (13%) adults identifying that the global food system contributes more than a third of all greenhouse gas emissions (half of which comes from meat and dairy production)[2].

The report coincides with the launch of Oatly’s first major brand campaign across Ireland, where its oat drink products can now be found in coffee shops and Tesco, Supervalu and Dunnes stores. In supermarkets, oat drink is the largest and fastest-growing beverage in the plant-based category, with Oatly’s Barista Edition the #1 selling dairy alternative.[3]

Bryan Carroll, General Manager for Oatly in the UK and Ireland, commented: “This new research shows dairy alternatives are on the cusp of entering the mainstream in Ireland. At Oatly, we want to make it easy for people to make small swaps in their diet, and that means creating products that require zero compromise on taste, performance, or nutrition. Climate change is the most significant challenge we face and scientists and researchers agree that we must reduce our consumption of animal-based foods[4] for the benefit of our planet and our future. We’re committed to driving this change by working with retailers and coffee shops across Ireland to make Oatly products widely available. And, through our first major brand campaign, raise greater awareness of the availability and benefits of plant-based alternatives to dairy.”

Oat-ly Digital Poster at train station

An interesting finding from the report was that choosing plant-based is currently less popular amongst older age groups. More than half (55%) of those aged 65 and older said they wouldn’t consider a meat or dairy alternative in the coming year, with preconceptions on taste as the most common barrier.

However, one person in the 65+ age group who has embraced plant-based products is self-employed welder, farmer and social media star, Padraig Howley. Co. Clare’s Padraig found viral fame on Instagram after changing his diet to include plant-based products to help lose weight and improve his health. His food-swapping journey captured the hearts of the nation, featuring in national and regional media across Ireland, and his content has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Instagram.

Padraig Howley - Co Claire’s farmer and social media star

Speaking on the new findings, Padraig said:
“Curiosity about plant-based food and drinks has definitely grown in Ireland since I first began my journey. Like most of us, I’ve been a meat and dairy man my whole life. But after talking with my doctor and reading more about the health benefits of plant-based foods, I challenged myself to go vegan. It didn’t take as much getting used to as I thought, and I soon started to notice positive changes in my health. But even one or two swaps can help – like going plant-based once a week, or replacing cow’s milk in your coffee in the morning – so I’d encourage anyone to experiment and see what works for them.”

Whether you’re enjoying Oatly in your coffee, as part of your breakfast, or swapping out dairy in your cooking, its great-tasting products are a rich source of several important vitamins and minerals[5], and low in saturated fat.

[1]. Research of 1,000 Irish adults carried out by Opinions Market Research in December 2022. n=1,046 nationally representative sample of adults in Ireland. The error margin for this data is estimated at +/- 3.1%.

[2]. Crippa, M., Solazzo, E., Guizzardi, D., Monforti-Ferrario, F., Tubiello, F. N., & Leip, A. J. N. F. (2021). Food systems are responsible for a third of global anthropogenic GHG emissions. Nature Food, 2(3), 198-209.

[3]. ROI Combined EPOS data to MAT WK 48 2022

[4]. Government’s Food Strategy ‘a missed opportunity’ for the climate.

[5]. All Oatly products that are available in Ireland are fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, apart from Oatly’s Oat Drink Organic which is not fortified with additional vitamins or minerals because of current EU legislations

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