Hi, I’m Annabel, and I’m the food-sciencey-nerd for Otis. And I absolutely love my job.
I am very proud of our latest win at the Organic NZ Awards - winning ‘Organic Beverage of the Year’, which recognises the most popular organic beverage in Aotearoa this year. A shout out to all of the other brands who were nominated, anyone could have taken out top honours as there was some incredibly strong competition. We’re all winners in my eyes!
I thought I would take you on a bit of a journey as to how we made it…We first set out on our organic m!lk journey in 2018, with grand intentions of the ‘Organic One’ being part of our core range. However, creating an organic oat m!lk made with New Zealand oats hadn’t been done before. In this case, rather than purchasing our oats from Harraway’s Mill in Dunedin, for this m!lk we worked with each farmer directly. A huge thank you to our farmers Allan, from Avalon Organic in West Otago, and Johnny, the farm manager at Lilybank station, at the edge of Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, without your oats and support, this Organic m!lk would not have been possible. We cherish your knowledge and work in the organic farming space.
While the sourcing of our organic oats was our first challenge, we also had to completely redesign our oat m!lk process to meet international organic processing and formulation standards. It was our goal to achieve this without compromising on the Otis taste, while the processing being delicate enough to protect the oat’s healthy soluble fibre called beta-glucan, which has proven benefits for lowering cholesterol and improving heart health. We are one of the few organic alternative m!lks to achieve this with only three simple ingredients; oats, water and salt.
We worked tirelessly on several formulation trials to get the right process to enhance the taste and performance of the m!lk; batch after batch, tweak after tweak, and tasting after tasting, we finally cracked a process we were all happy with, and a m!lk that surpassed the competition. ‘The Organic one’ works well in cups of tea, smoothies, baking and on its own. A big thank you to our enzyme partners Cerealiq for their industry knowledge in this space.
As a young food scientist, my experience in the organic certification process was an interesting one, and certainly the biggest learning for me personally. There wasn’t a lot of information available in New Zealand specific to organic oat milk seeing this was a first, so it took many calls with MPI, emails back and forward with certifiers, and a rigorous audit to ensure all organic standards were accounted for. While this process is necessary to gain confidence in the organic process, it goes to show just how much work goes behind certifications in the industry – but sets us up for future success.
With the recent announcement of our New Zealand factory, I cannot wait to expand our range into more than just oat m!lk products, with people and the planet at the heart of it. Finally, being able to be on the ground working hands on with our products again, testing and looking at all the new ways we can utilise our milks to lead the category with both functionality, sustainability, and nutrition in mind.
We at Otis are all incredibly humbled and proud to receive this award and will continue our journey and learning in the organic space.
This is just the beginning.
🌾 In Oats We Trust