Two TV ads, a paid-for Facebook post, a paid-for Twitter post and two newspaper ads made various claims about Oatly’s environmental credentials, such as “Oatly generates 73% less CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) vs milk, calculated from grower to grocer”.
Claims also include: “The dairy and meat industries emit more CO2e than all the world’s planes, trains, cars, boats etc combined”, and “Today, more than 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases are generated by the food industry, and meat and dairy account for more than half of that.”
One of the newspaper advert also featured the claim that “climate experts say cutting dairy and meat products from our diets is the single biggest lifestyle change we can make to reduce our environmental impact”, and “If everyone in the world adopted a vegan diet, it would reduce food’s annual greenhouse emissions by 6.6 billion metric tons (a 49% reduction).”
As a result, the ASA received 109 complaints, including from the campaign group A Greener World, that the claims were “misleading”.
The advertising association also found the claim that the dairy and meat industries emit more CO2e “than all the world’s planes, trains, cars, boats etc combined” did not take into account equivalent parts of both industries’ lifecycles, which include, missions from agricultural production of oats and rapeseed, processing of ingredients, transport of ingredients, energy consumption in the Oatly factory, packaging and distribution.
The ASA concluded that the ads must not appear again. It said: “We told Oatly UK to ensure that the basis of any environmental claim was made clear, including what parts of the lifecycle had been included and which excluded.
“We also told them to ensure they held adequate evidence to substantiate environmental claims made in their ads as they would be understood by consumers.”
Oatly spokesman Tim Knight added: “It’s clear that we could have been more specific in the way we described some of the scientific data.
“We’re a science-based company and take pride in being precise, but we could have been clearer. We talk about these things a lot, because we want to make it easy for people to make an informed switch from dairy to oat drink.”
The ban follows complains made by 14 viewers stating it could encourage unsafe behaviour.