UK theater star Samantha Barks is one of the most sought-after musical performers both stateside and across the pond. The Manx actress is currently starring as Elsa in the acclaimed production of Frozen in the West End, for which she has received rave reviews. Now the Snow Queen herself has teamed up with the Better Food Foundation to promote coffee’s hottest trend: oatmilk.
Starting August 22 (World Plant Milk Day), plant-powered phenom Samantha Barks appears in a new advert for the Better Food Foundation’s coffee campaign, encouraging Brits to ditch dairy defaults and switch to oatmilk instead. The Broadway darling urges coffee drinkers and cafes alike to embrace oatmilk defaults so that coffeehouse culture stays low-carbon, your morning cuppa stays compassionate, and the climate stays cool.
“Climate-friendly cappuccinos are in,” says Barks in the advert, “with oatmilk, of course.” The ad will appear on mobile phones around London, spotlighting the wave of coffee drinkers eschewing dairy milk’s inherent injustices, such as dietary racism, environmental devastation, and animal cruelty.
The ad debuts in the wake of this summer’s Global Dairy Congress, where industry leaders convened in London and openly acknowledged the rapidly shrinking demand for their products. This year’s theme was Reimagining Dairy, featuring a handful of cell-based and precision fermentation companies in the speaker lineup. Richard Hall, chairman of event organizer Zenith Global, explained, “After all the attention given to plant-based products, this year our focus will be on real dairy from cows and dairy equivalent products without cows.” So close, yet so far. Dairy leaders know that plant-based products are on the rise, but instead of embracing their potential, harnessing consumer demand, and riding into the future, they’re going all-in on high-tech cell ag solutions. Meanwhile, oatmilk’s meteoric rise continues — and coffeeshops are happy to cash in on the buzz.
Across the UK, many cafes are ditching the 50p+ upcharges that’ve long been foisted upon lactose intolerant coffee drinkers, animal welfare advocates, persons of faith, and the veg-curious. Some are going even further by abandoning the dairy default altogether and offering plantmilk in its stead. One of those pioneers is just three miles upriver from the Dairy Congress’s 2023 location.
Data from University College London indicates that using oatmilk by default increases oatmilk drinks sold and decreases cow’s milk drinks sold in equal proportion, suggesting that plant-based defaults successfully displace animal-based options. Four student union cafes — Gordon’s Café, Print Room Café, Bloomsbury Café, and George Farha Café — implemented an oatmilk default policy in April 2022, and according to data shared with the Better Food Foundation, oatmilk orders fully doubled (21% → 42%) over the following year.
Oatmilk is taking London, and the world, by storm. Samantha Barks is simply putting into words what millions of young people already believe: the future of coffee is plant-based. Barks has added her voice to a bonafide chorus of dairy-free consumers, many of whom are actually younger than her. Oatmilk lattes are quintessentially Gen Z, and as young consumers come of age, the swing toward oat-based bevvies will only intensify.
“This collaboration is a testament to the swiftly-changing norms in the coffee industry in response to compassionate consumer preferences around the world,” agrees Better Food Foundation Senior Campaigns Director Laura Lee Cascada. “Consumers are eschewing harmful dairy defaults in favor of healthier and more sustainable plant-based options for their daily coffee.”
If you’d like to see plant-based coffee drinks at your favorite cafe, let’s team up! Join our email list to access resources like webinars, starter guides, and one-pagers. Change is brewing, and you can help bring it to your neighborhood.
In the meantime, we’ll put a kettle on for you. As they say on the Isle of Man, slaynt vie!
Mikhala Kaseweter is Content Manager for the Better Food Foundation.