What's the difference?
When you pick up plant-based milk you might notice that some are in the fridge while others sit on a non-refrigerated shelf.
Leaves spoke to two major vegan beverage companies, Earth’s Own and Oatly. According to representatives from each company, it’s all about packaging.
“We’re pretty darn proud that we don’t use preservatives in our products and the difference is actually the packaging used,” said an Earth’s Own representative. “Shelf stable products are packed in aseptic packaging and conditions that allow the product to have a longer shelf life at room temperature.”
According to Earth’s Own, all their chilled products need to be refrigerated, otherwise they will spoil quickly. That’s why, despite having a long shelf life, most plant-based milks have to be consumed rather quickly.
Shelf stable products can be kept at room temperature. Once opened though, they should also be kept in the fridge and enjoyed within seven to ten days for optimal freshness just like their chilled products.
What did Oatly Have to Say?
According to Oatly, “The only difference between the two versions is the packaging — the oat milk product inside is exactly the same.”
She explained that the flat-top shelf-stable/ambient cartons (like the ones you find at Leaves House) are packaged in Tetra Paks that do a great job of keeping the oatmilk protected and withstanding everyday weather conditions. This type does not require refrigeration until it's opened.
The gable-top chilled version (which you typically find in grocery stores) comes in a thinner-walled carton that doesn't protect the product in the same way, so it has to stay in the fridge to keep it fresh.
“For all of our oat milks, cartons should be refrigerated after they're opened and consumed within seven days”, she said.