Milk alternatives are considered healthy and should have less impact on the environment than cow’s milk. Is that correct? How does a good oat drink taste? And why shouldn’t the drink be called “oat milk”? Our oat drink test clarifies that. Of 18 products in the test, 14 do well, 11 of which have an organic seal (prices: 0.95 to 2.24 euros per liter). The examiners from Stiftung Warentest only found significant amounts of harmful substances in one drink.
The quality of the oat drinks in the test is remarkable
No milk alternative currently has more fans than oat drinks: Grocers and drugstores sold a good 34 million liters of it in 2018 – a doubling compared to 2016. Our test results should reinforce the trend: The quality of the oat drinks in the test is remarkable – none of the products performed worse than satisfactory from. In terms of taste, only three products are top-quality. Seven products are fortified with calcium.
This is what the oat drink test from Stiftung Warentest offers
Test results. Our table shows ratings for 18 often sold oat drinks, 14 of them with an organic seal. In addition to well-known brands such as Alnatura, Alpro and Kölln, we have also tested retail and discount goods from Aldi, Rewe & Co. as well as products from the drugstores dm and Rossmann. Among other things, we tasted the drinks, examined them for harmful substances, checked their nutritional and microbiological quality, examined the user-friendliness of the packaging and assessed the labeling. We also tested whether the oat drinks frothed well (“oat macchiato”).
Background. We offer an overview of the various vegan milk alternatives and show how their ecological balance looks compared to cow’s milk. A sustainability expert explains what role transport and packaging play in terms of greenhouse gas emissions from products.
Booklet. If you activate the topic, you will have access to the PDF for the test report from test May 2020. There you will also find information on the eco-balance of plant drinks compared to cow’s milk.
Taste like porridge or muesli
The oat drinks in the test consist mainly of water, 9 to 16 percent oats, a little vegetable oil and salt. The milk alternatives examined by Stiftung Warentest contain less protein than milk, but they contribute to the supply of dietary fiber. The average calorie content of an oat drink is the same as that of low-fat milk. Oat drink and cow’s milk differ in taste: the oat-based drink has nothing in common with the drink from the udder in this respect. It tastes more like oatmeal or muesli. Most of the oat drinks tested taste sweet, some only slightly sweet. Some are slightly vanilla, roasted or bitter in the aftertaste – this is not unusual for oat products.
Only one oat drink is made sugar-free
Despite the difference in taste, oat drinks can be used like cow’s milk, even for cooking. The only thing that doesn’t go well with savory dishes like béchamel is its sweetness. This occurs during production: enzymes break down starch in oats into sugar. Only one of the oat drinks tested is sugar-free, the others contain an average of around 4.5 grams of sugar per 100 milliliters. This corresponds to almost four sugar cubes in a 250 milliliter glass, but is significantly less than in juice or soda.
Why the “oat milk” is not milk
In everyday life, many speak of “oat milk”, “rice milk” or “soy milk”. According to the law, only foods obtained from the udder by milking may be designated as milk. Plant-based milk substitutes are therefore mostly sold as a “drink”.
“Oat milk” is less harmful to the environment than cow’s milk
Many also buy oat drinks because they are supposed to be more sustainable than milk. Studies confirm this: oat drinks cause around 70 percent fewer harmful greenhouse gases than cow’s milk. When it comes to water consumption, drinks made from oats do better than those from cows: per liter of oat drink, an average of 3.4 liters of water are produced during production, compared to around 250 liters for 1 liter of cow’s milk. Only soy drinks use just as little water. In our test of soy drinks, however, some products were contaminated with nickel. Some providers advertise that they process oats from Germany. The origin of the raw material does not play a decisive role in the ecological balance, but consumers can support the local economy with products that were made in Germany.