Sufficiency Business Strategies in the Food Industry—The Case of Oatly
- RQ1. How can sufficiency business strategies be implemented in the food industry?
- RQ2. What are sufficiency strategies pursued at the case company Oatly, and what challenges and opportunities do they present?
2.1. Steps in the Research Process
2.2. Case Approach and Company
2.3. Data Collection and Analysis
3.1. Literature and Practice Review
- Offering quality local products;
- Changing conventional consumer perception;
- Selling ‘inconvenience’ for a better price.
3.1.1. Conscious Sales and Marketing Techniques
3.1.2. Creating New Revenue Models
3.1.3. Demand Reduction Services
3.1.4. Education and Customer Engagement
3.1.5. Full Life-Cycle Sufficiency
3.1.7. Premium Pricing Model
3.1.8. Product Longevity
3.1.9. Technology-Based Solutions
3.1.10. Offering Quality Local Products
3.1.11. Changing Conventional Consumer Perception
3.1.12. Selling Inconvenience for a Better Price
3.2. Conceptual Framework Building on Literature and Practice Review
3.3. Empirical Results and Final Conceptual Framework
“Tony [Oatly’s CEO] said to me that the key to not doing that [losing sustainability as the company grows] is to make sure that the values are set for every co-worker working here, they need to know why we exist and the values of what we do. Because I had the feeling that I need to get down with processes – how do I know that everyone is working with sustainability? Tony is more like: ‘No, you need to make sure that everyone has an engagement and it will come naturally, the starting point must be that they understand the value of what they are doing on the sustainability part’. Maybe he is a bit of a dreamer, but he was like ‘it has to come from the belief of what we do and not the rules”.(I1)
“I actually had a discussion yesterday where we talked about the new kind of package…I said ‘with this one we won’t have food waste [referring to one packaging] but if you go with this one [points at another packaging], it will get stuck. So that is something that we are definitely looking into when we are looking into new packages – is it easy to empty?... The packaging needs to be effective…the consumer needs to be able to empty it and you need the consumer to use the whole product, so you have to pick the right size of the package”.(I1)
“It depends what your definition of ‘need’ is, because…we want to offer healthier alternatives, and the fact is that people that move to a plant-based diet still want indulgence…ice-cream in itself is more indulgent and less healthy than let’s say a yogurt, but it is still going to be consumed in its dairy form, and having it in a non-dairy form helps people to make that shift to a full plant-based diet, and we believe that is important”.(I3)
“Yeah, it’s an interesting one when you talk about the increase of consumption, because our aims and goals are not to increase people’s consumption of our products, our aims and goals are to convert people from dairy […] our focus is definitely not to increase people’s consumption habits but it is more about giving people an option […] having the alternatives to switch from dairy. And we know that’s the biggest in sustainability change…with regards to CO2 emissions, so when you move from […] cow’s milk to oat milk, then it’s [a] reduction on CO2 emissions. What I do absolutely understand, though, is that if someone is already consuming let’s say our oat drink, what we are not advocating is that they consume four times the amount”.(I3)
4. Discussion and Conclusions
- RQ1. How can sufficiency business strategies be implemented in the food industry?
- RQ2. What are sufficiency strategies pursued at the case company Oatly, and what challenges and opportunities do they present?
“With the high growth that we have experienced at the moment, I have to be honest, the focus has been on the supply…and as we know, the biggest change is about changing from dairy farming to crop farming. That is still our focus, but I think that as the company grows and as that growth kind of slows as such over the coming years, yes, we do need to have a more proactive focus on more sustainable eating…that will involve education, ensuring that people do not have pack sizes where they are wasting product, and we are talking about that innovation…some single households do not eat too much and now they are wasting it [food] especially on fresh products”.(I3)
Conflicts of Interest
Appendix A. Interview Guide
|1||What are the most pressing sustainability issues that derive from the consumption of your products?|
|2||How does Oatly play a role in encouraging sustainable consumption?|
|3||What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities to implement ‘sufficiency’ business strategies?|
|4||What is your view on ‘sufficiency’ as a business approach for the food industry?|
Appendix B. List of Interviews
|#||Department||Role||Duration (h)||Format||Interview Mode||Date||Validated at final presentation?|
|I-1||Sustainability||Sustainability Director||1:45||In person||Group||June 19th, 2019.||X|
|I-1||Sustainability||Sustainability Controller||1:45||In person||Group||June 19th, 2019.||X|
|I-1||Sustainability||Sustainability Specialist||1:45||In person||Group||June 19th, 2019.||X|
|I-2||Sales/Creative||Project Manager||0:30||Phone call||Individual||July 4th, 2019.||X|
|I-3||UK Office||General Manager||0:20||Phone call||Individual||July 10th, 2019.|
|I-4||USA Office||General Manager||0:30||Video call||Individual||July 10th, 2019.|
|I-5||Germany Office||General Manager||0:30||Video call||Individual||July 11th, 2019.|
|I-6||Product Innovation||Product Development Lead||0:40||Video call||Individual||July 12th, 2019.|
|I-7||Sustainability||Sustainability Controller||1:00||Video call||Individual||September 3rd, 2019.||X|
|N/A||Sustainability||Sustainability Specialist II||X|
Appendix C. Strategies and Origin
|Creating new revenue models||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
|Implementing choice architecture||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
|Choice editing||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
|Applying conscious sales and marketing techniques||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
|Setting default options||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
|Education and engaging consumers||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
|Offering quality local products||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
|Shortening ingredient list||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
|Designing products for sustainable consumption||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
|Encouraging substitution of animal-based products||Emerged after analyzing interviews|
|Changing conventional consumer perception (e.g., on ugly vegetables)||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
|Selling inconvenience for a better price (e.g., loose, bulk produce)||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
|Developing products that last||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
|Providing refillable packaging for consumables||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
|Repurposing food||Predetermined based on conceptual framework|
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|Research Question||Step 1||Step 2||Step 3||Step 4|
|RQ1. How can sufficiency business strategies be implemented in the food industry?||Literature review to identify sufficiency strategies in a business context.||Practice review to explore the application of sufficiency in the food industry.||Creation of a conceptual framework for sufficiency business strategies in the food industry.||Conceptual framework for sufficiency business strategies in the food industry.|
|RQ2. What are sufficiency strategies pursued at case company Oatly, and what challenges and opportunities do they present?||Design, conduct, and analyze interviews. Analyze company’s sustainability report.||Discuss initial findings at case company Oatly.||Analyze findings; enhance framework for business-led sufficiency in the food industry.||Final conceptual framework and company-specific strategies, which was shared with Oatly for final feedback.|
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Bocken, N.; Morales, L.S.; Lehner, M. Sufficiency Business Strategies in the Food Industry—The Case of Oatly. Sustainability 2020, 12, 824. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030824
Bocken N, Morales LS, Lehner M. Sufficiency Business Strategies in the Food Industry—The Case of Oatly. Sustainability. 2020; 12(3):824. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030824Chicago/Turabian Style
Bocken, Nancy, Lisa Smeke Morales, and Matthias Lehner. 2020. "Sufficiency Business Strategies in the Food Industry—The Case of Oatly" Sustainability 12, no. 3: 824. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030824