Minor Figures Co-founder and CEO Stuart Forsyth speaks to World Coffee Portal about how demand for oatmilk has soared in the last eight years, becoming a multi-channel business and why sustainability remains central to the brand’s ethos
Stuart Forsyth, CEO, Minor Figures | Photo credit: Minor Figures
Founded in 2015, London-based oatmilk and ready-to-drink coffee brand Minor Figures is available
across retail stores and coffee shops in 40 countries.
In March 2022, the company forecasted 100% year-on-year sales growth as it launched its oatmilk into 700 Tesco supermarket outlets across the UK. The agreement took the brand’s UK retail footprint to 2,500 grocery stores and over 5,000 coffee shops and independent cafés.
The following month Minor Figures became one of the few companies in the world to both attain B Corp certification and become 100% carbon neutral.
The popularity of oatmilk has grown exponentially in recent years. How has the demographic and size of Minor Figure's consumer-base changed since 2014?
We’ve definitely experienced more awareness of our brand among our core demographic thanks to an increase in distribution. We now operate across three main regions, US, UK, APAC, and it’s been an exciting few years as we’ve built out our teams in each area and established Minor Figures within the coffee communities in cities all over the world. The popularity of oatmilk has grown significantly thanks to the connection between oatmilk and coffee.
Alongside consumer demand, the alternative milk market is also developing. How does Minor Figures stand out in the crowded marketplace?
Many alt-milk brands are motivated by a desire to mimic and replace dairy. We’re coming at the category from a different angle - our Oat M*lk range was built off the back of our experience in specialty coffee and identifying the gaps in the coffee market. From texture to taste, our Oat M*lk is designed with creating a perfect cup of coffee in mind.
“We definitely expect to see the plant-based milk category become more intertwined with the specialty coffee industry, and the popularity of iced coffee won’t be dropping any time soon”
In June 2022 Minor Figures received investment from Danone Manifesto Ventures and Green Monday Group. What opportunities does their backing present for Minor Figures, particularly in the Asian market?
We are a multi-geo, multi product, multi-channel business. Danone Manifesto Ventures is by far the best partner we could have found to help us with the operational challenges we are likely to face as we continue to grow. Green Monday are likewise a fantastic partner and our distributor across Asia. Partnering with the right teams is a huge priority for us as we expand into new markets and their support will be invaluable.
Minor Figures is a coffee company so let's talk coffee! What is your view on the current state of the iced coffee market and what trends are likely to emerge in the next few years?
Served in a grocery, grab-n-go type environment, it is quite a complicated and aggressive global market. We’ve taken note of how certain brands which have found success are driven by different metrics across different regions.
We definitely expect to see the plant-based milk category become more intertwined with the specialty coffee industry, and the popularity of iced coffee won’t be dropping any time soon! Pricing remains a challenge in many places, so successful innovation and trends will likely drive cost saving.
This year Minor Figures achieved B Corp certification and carbon neutrality. Why is this important and how does the company maintain and further its sustainability drive?
Our B Corp certification and carbon neutrality prove our commitment to creating a better future for not only the environment, but for everyone living in it. Both were large undertakings for a small-but-growing business like ours, but we’ve always prioritised pushing the needle forward when it comes to our sustainability efforts.
As the first plant-based M*lk company to go carbon neutral in 2018, we want to be part of building a future world where people see, in real time, the benefits of all our efforts to stop degenerative practices, adopt regenerative practices, and give back more to society and the planet than we've taken.
We take a human-focused approach to our sustainability ethos, supporting projects with biodiversity and social equity co-benefits, as well as driving capital to places where it’s most needed to help people adapt to the climate crisis.
With new investment and an increasing demand for plant-based milks, what does 2023 have in store for Minor Figures?
We’ll continue to expand our plant-based product range with increasingly innovative sustainable practices in place; focus on reducing our carbon output across all areas of the business; grow our global teams and markets with the same mixture of care and risk-taking that has led us to where we are today; and of course, throw more parties through our music collaboration project, MinorFigures FM.