Vegan yogurt brand Hälsa Foods is helping U.S. farmers transition away from dairy with oats.
The founders of the oat milk yogurt company, Helena Lumme and Mika Manninen, want to help U.S. dairy farmers grow organic oats the Scandinavian way.
They already have their first convert: High Meadows of Hoosick Farm in Upstate New York. Home to 200 cows, the farm has 300 acres of prime organic land, which will now be used to grow oats instead.
A team of researchers, Scandinavian organic farmers, and environmental experts will assist the farm in the transition process. Hälsa Foods is also putting together a guide book to help more farms make the switch.
Farmers Eric and Jamie Ziehm and Sam Cottrell are “excited to get started” with the conversion. They said in a joint statement, “our goal is to build a biodiverse and biodynamic eco-system that has the ability to regenerate its resources.”
They added, “we hope this will have a positive impact and also inspire our fellow farmers who are facing many challenges today.”
The U.S. dairy industry is struggling. Earlier this year, Borden Dairy Co. became the second major milk producer to file for bankruptcy in the space of a few months. In Wisconsin, two dairy farms go out of business every day.
The industry is suffering for a number of reasons. Raw milk prices are rising, consumer demand is dropping, and there’s more competition than ever from vegan milk brands. Sales of oat milk in the U.S. are rising. In 2017, the market was worth $4.4 million. In 2019, it was worth $29 million.
Why Choose Oat Milk?
According to Lumme and Manninen, oats are one of the most environmentally-friendly ways to make plant-based milk; they provide soil erosion control and they don’t require that much water to produce.
Hälsa Foods’ oats are grown in Scandinavia with a “zero water footprint,” says a press release. But the brand wants more suppliers in the U.S., hence its new program.
“We are currently importing our organic oats from Scandinavia because we cannot find the quality that meets our standard in the United States,” they said in a statement. “At the same time, U.S. dairy farms are struggling due to slumping milk sales. So we thought, why not come up with a solution that benefits both of us and our planet?”