Oats growing in popularity, winning awards and consumer favour10 Feb 2022
Oats have transformed from a breakfast ingredient to an increasingly common plant-based option, appearing in a multitude of applications.
From oat-based dairy to oat-based meat substitutes, this grain has made its way into a variety of foods, some of which are receiving awards for their innovation. Gold&Green Foods was awarded the SEAL (Sustainability, Environmental Achievement and Leadership) for its Pulled Oats product. Held annually, the SEAL Awards aim to recognize sustainable companies and environmental initiatives. Gold&Green's meat analog is made from Nordic oats with faba beans and yellow peas to create a protein-rich product that has a 'pulled' texture. With only five ingredients — oats, pea, faba bean, oil and salt — this product is not only intended to be better-for-you but also better for the environment.
Oat production is sustainable as compared to other commodities. According to Gold&Green, oats have a small carbon footprint and do not require the extensive use of pesticides or fertilizers.
According to ingredient supplier Novozymes, “the CO2 saving from replacing a litre of dairy milk with a litre of oat drink is equivalent to driving 5 km on fossil-based fuel".
With consumers continuously more conscious about the environmental impact of their consumption, oats present an alternative that can offer products similar to animal-based counterparts but with an improved environmental footprint.
Oat cultivation has struggled in recent months. Severe dry weather and continued droughts have led to lower oat production globally, which in turn has prompted an increase in import demand and a corresponding rise in oat futures prices, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Nevertheless, oats appeal to consumers on multiple levels. Not only is it more productive to produce than other agricultural commodities, but oats are laden with anti-oxidants, high in fiber and are known for being effective in combatting heart disease. The ability to tout health benefits, which has become increasingly important as a result of the pandemic, has helped some companies selling oat products to catapult their sales.
Early in the pandemic, oat milk became the second most popular form of plant-based milk, SPINS data found. Sales of oat milk were up 347.3% the first week of March 2020, according to Nielsen data. Oatly, in particular, benefitted from this interest in oats. Its sales rose 212% between 2019 and 2020.
Since then, the interest in oats has deepened. PepsiCo is working with the U.S. government to sequence the oat genome in an effort to unlock its health attributes and breed oats that are both nutritionally and sustainably improved. Green&Gold is also applying its efforts in this direction.
“Gold&Green’s mission is to provide people with healthy and planet-friendly food without compromising taste. Our hope is that people will see how easy it is to make more environmentally-conscious changes in their diet, they can make similar changes in all aspects of their life,” said Maija Itkonen, Chief Innovation Officer & Co-founder of Gold&Green Foods in a statement.
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