“Why do we exist as a company?” is not the sort of existential question CEOs tend to ask, especially if they’re at the mercy of a quarterly reporting schedule. But it’s one that exercises Toni Petersson of Oatly.
Since becoming CEO of the Swedish oat drinks company in 2012, he’s transformed the Malmö-based brand into one that thinks about itself as doing more than simply producing and selling a product. Founded in the 1990s, the company grew out of home-grown Swedish research from Lund University, and uses that patented enzyme technology to emulate the way the human body breaks down grains. The product is strong, but so is its reason for existing.
What Oatly is all about now is brand purpose. Its website states: “Our sole purpose as a company is to make it easy for people to turn what they eat and drink into personal moments of healthy joy without recklessly taxing the planet’s resources in the process.”