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How is Oat Milk Made Commercially

Have you ever sipped on a glass of oat milk and wondered how this creamy, plant-based drink is made commercially? You’re not alone! Oat milk’s rise in popularity begs the question: how is oat milk made, especially on a large scale? Let’s dive into the world of oat milk production, from grain to glass.

oat milk commercial production
Source: Coffee Affection

Key Takeaways:

  • Uncover the intricate process behind the commercial production of oat milk.
  • Explore how innovative techniques and natural ingredients combine to create this popular dairy alternative.
  • Gain insights into the sustainability and nutritional benefits of oat milk.

The Origins of Oat Milk: A Brief History

Oat milk, a Swedish innovation by Oatly, has transformed from a niche product to a household staple. Its invention, pivotal in the history of plant-based milks, marked the beginning of a new era in dairy alternatives.

Manufacturing Process of Commercial Oat Milk

1. Growing, Harvesting, and Preparing the Oats

Growing, Harvesting, and Preparing the Oats
Source: Morning Chores
  • Cultivation: Oat milk production begins with the cultivation of oats, a cereal grain, in fields.
  • Harvesting and Preparing: After harvesting, the oats are cleaned and the hard, inedible husk is removed, leaving the nutritious grain kernel.
  • Steaming to Inactivate Enzymes: The oats are then steamed or blanched at high temperatures to inactivate natural enzymes like lipases that can cause spoilage.

2. Extracting Nutrients from Oats

oat milk production milling process
  • Creating a Slurry: The processed oats are mixed with warm water to create a slurry. The warmth aids in the extraction process by facilitating the breakdown of the oat structure.
  • Grinding and Enzymatic Treatment: This slurry is then ground, breaking up the oats to release nutrients such as starch, protein, and fibers.
  • Preventing Thickening: To prevent the oat mixture from thickening due to gelatinization of starches in warm water, specific enzymes are added. These enzymes break down starches into smaller components, controlling the viscosity of the mixture.

3. Enzymatic Hydrolysis

oat milk production enzymatic hydrolysis
  • Enzyme Introduction: Enzymes such as alpha-amylase are added to the slurry. These enzymes are pivotal in breaking down the starches in oats into simpler sugars, contributing to the natural sweetness of the milk.
  • Controlling the Process: The enzymatic process is carefully controlled, adjusting factors like temperature and pH to ensure optimal conversion of starches and to develop the desired flavor profile.

4. Separation and Filtration

oat milk production separation and filtration process
  • Centrifugation: The mixture is then centrifuged to separate the liquid from the oat pulp. This high-speed process effectively separates the two components.
  • Fine Filtration: The liquid is then passed through fine filters to remove any remaining solids. This step is key to achieving the smooth, creamy texture of oat milk.

5. Fortification and Flavoring

oat milk production fortification and flavoring process
  • Nutritional Enhancement: The liquid is fortified with essential nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin D, and B12, aligning its nutritional profile more closely with that of dairy milk.
  • Flavor Additives: To enhance taste and texture, natural flavors, sweeteners, and vegetable oils are added. The type and quantity of these additives vary depending on the desired end product.

6. Pasteurization

oat milk production pasteurization process
  • Heat Treatment: The oat milk undergoes pasteurization or UHT treatment to eliminate pathogens and extend shelf life. This process is carefully monitored to maintain the quality of the milk.

7. Homogenization

oat milk production homogenization process
  • Dispersing Oils: Vegetable oils are added to increase the fat content, mimicking the mouthfeel of cow’s milk. The mixture is homogenized to evenly distribute these fats.
  • Homogenization Process: Homogenization is the next step, where the milk is mechanically treated to break down and evenly distribute fat particles. This step ensures a consistent and smooth texture.

8. Packaging and Distribution

oat milk production packaging and distribution process
  • Aseptic Packaging: The oat milk is then packaged in a sterile environment using aseptic packaging technology. This method keeps the milk safe and shelf-stable for an extended period.
  • Ready for Distribution: Finally, the packaged oat milk is ready to be shipped to stores and supermarkets, bringing this nutritious, plant-based milk alternative to consumers worldwide.

9. Usage and Storage

  • Shaking Before Use: It’s recommended to shake oat milk before use as it
    still contains small oat particles that can settle at the bottom.
  • Versatility in Use: While oat milk can replace cow’s milk in many applications like baking and cooking, it behaves differently in products that rely on the protein content of dairy milk, such as cheese or yogurt.

Equipment Needed for Commercial Oat Milk Production

1. Oat Processing Equipment

Oat Processing Equipment
Source: Wintone Machinery

Cleaning and Hulling Machines

These are used to clean the oats and remove the outer husk. They often combine air blowers, sieves, and hulling mechanisms.

Steaming or Blanching Equipment

Industrial steamers or blanchers inactivate natural enzymes in oats. These machines typically involve large, steam-injecting chambers.

2. Grinding and Milling Equipment

Grinding and Milling Equipment
Source: Ginhong

Slurry Tanks

These are large tanks, often with capacities ranging from hundreds to thousands of gallons, depending on the scale of production. Here, oats and water are mixed to create a slurry, with agitation systems to keep the mixture uniform.

Grinders or Mills

Industrial grinders or mills are critical for breaking down the oat slurry into a finer consistency. They are designed to handle large volumes efficiently, with some systems capable of processing thousands of liters per hour. These mills ensure uniform grinding, which is crucial for the consistent quality and texture of the oat milk.

3. Enzymatic Processing and Filtration Equipment

Enzyme Dosing Systems

These precision systems are used for adding specific amounts of enzymes to the oat slurry. The capacity and rate of enzyme dosing can vary, but they are designed to ensure precise and consistent enzyme-to-oat ratio, which is crucial for the enzymatic process.

Centrifuges and Filters

Centrifuges used in oat milk production are often high-capacity, industrial-grade machines capable of processing large volumes of slurry efficiently. They separate the liquid from the solid oat remnants. Fine filters then remove any remaining particles, ensuring a smooth texture. These filters are designed for high throughput and efficient particle removal.

4. Fortification and Flavoring Equipment

Mixing Tanks

These tanks, equipped with agitators, are used for mixing in additional nutrients, flavors, and oils. The tanks come in various sizes, often able to hold several thousand liters, allowing for the batch fortification and flavoring of large quantities of oat milk.

Dosing Pumps

These pumps are designed for precise addition of vitamins, minerals, and other fortifying agents. They ensure that each batch of oat milk has a consistent level of added nutrients, which is essential for product standardization.

5. Pasteurization and Homogenization Equipment


Heat Exchangers/Pasteurizers

These systems are used for heat treating the oat milk to kill bacteria and extend shelf life. They can be either batch systems, suitable for smaller operations, or continuous systems for large-scale production. Plate heat exchanger technology is commonly used for its efficiency and ability to handle high volumes.


Mechanical systems that apply high pressure to blend the oat milk. These homogenizers are crucial for breaking down and evenly distributing fat particles, ensuring a consistent and smooth texture. They are typically high-capacity machines, capable of processing thousands of liters per hour.

6. Packaging Equipment

Aseptic Filling Machines

These machines are used for packaging oat milk in a sterile environment. They are designed for high-speed operation and can fill and seal thousands of containers per hour while maintaining the sterility of the product.

Conveyors and Handling Systems

These automated systems move packaged oat milk through the production line to the storage or shipping area. They are designed for efficiency and can be configured to handle various package sizes and shapes, ensuring smooth logistics within the production facility.

7. Quality Control and Testing Equipment

Lab Testing Equipment

This includes spectrometers, chromatographs, and other laboratory equipment for analyzing samples of oat milk during and after production. They ensure consistency, nutritional content, and safety of the final product.

Temperature and pH Monitors

These devices continuously monitor the temperature and pH levels during various stages of production. They are essential for ensuring that the oat milk is processed under optimal conditions, which is crucial for both quality and safety.

8. Cleaning and Sanitization Equipment

CIP (Clean-in-Place) Systems

These automated systems are used for cleaning and sanitizing all the equipment used in oat milk production. They are designed to clean tanks, pipes, and processing equipment without disassembly, saving time and reducing the risk of contamination.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What ingredients are used in making oat milk commercially?

A: Commercial oat milk is primarily made from oats and water. During the production process, additional ingredients like enzymes (such as alpha-amylase) are added to break down starches. For nutritional enhancement and flavor, ingredients like calcium, Vitamin D, B12, natural flavors, sweeteners, and vegetable oils are also included.

Q: When did oat milk become popular?

A: Oat milk gained significant popularity in the last decade. It became particularly prominent in the 2010s, with companies like Oatly leading the charge in marketing oat milk as a delicious and sustainable alternative to dairy milk. This rise in popularity coincides with a growing interest in plant-based diets and sustainable food practices.

Q: What percentage of oat milk is actually oats?

A: The specific percentage of oats in oat milk can vary between brands and recipes. Generally, commercial oat milk contains a mixture where oats constitute a significant portion of the solids. The exact percentage is not typically disclosed, but the process starts with creating a slurry of oats and water, which forms the base of the milk.

Q: How does oat milk made differ from cow’s milk?

A: Oat milk is made by processing oats with water and additional ingredients, whereas cow’s milk is a natural product from cows. The processes involved in producing oat milk include grinding, enzymatic treatment, and fortification, which are not applicable to cow’s milk. Additionally, oat milk lacks the proteins found in cow’s milk, leading to differences in applications like cheese or yogurt making.

Q: Can you provide a brief history of when oat milk was invented?

A: Oat milk, as we know it today, was developed in the early 1990s by the Swedish company Oatly. Its invention was a significant milestone in the history of plant-based milks and marked the beginning of oat milk’s journey as a mainstream dairy alternative. Oatly’s innovation played a crucial role in popularizing oat milk globally.

Wrapping Up

We’ve learned a lot about how oat milk is made commercially. For those interested in the production of oat milk or similar beverages, understanding the role of specialized equipment is crucial.

For entrepreneurs and businesses aspiring to venture into the production of oat milk or other similar beverages, Ginhong’s mixing equipment represents a valuable investment. Our industrial mixers not only streamline the mixing production process but also ensure that the end product meets high standards of quality and taste.

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