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Oat growers flip to increasing plant-based drinks market

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With manufacturers equivalent to Oatly and Alpro on the grocery store cabinets, oat drinks are presenting producers with alternative for a British provenanced and sustainable oat crop.

As a sign of the increasing market alternative, Oatly, the world’s greatest oat drinks model, plans to open one of many globe’s greatest plant-based drinks factories in Peterborough by 2023.

They plan to faucet into this rising shopper demand and benefit from Britain’s beneficial maritime local weather for rising oats.

We communicate to 2 farmers who’re specializing in rising high quality oats for the drinks market and have a look at this increasing market.

See additionally: Methods to sort out the spring milling oat problem

Chris Allen: House Farm, Farleigh Wallop, south of Basingstoke

Chris Allen is returning to oats after a niche of some years from rising the crop, and two-and-a-half years after his 220-strong Holstein-Friesian herd, with a excessive annual milk yield of 11,000 litres a cow, was dispersed.

The Hampshire farmer has turned to oats to feed a quickly rising oat drinks market and cut back imports and is a part of 25-plus band of oat growers set to reap a 2021 crop that may manufacture the primary UK-produced oat drink from “discipline to carton”.

“We’re at all times searching for crops so as to add worth and this matches right into a wholesome meals market, which is constructing momentum and has grow to be fairly common,” Mr Allen says from his farm simply south of Basingstoke.

Final autumn, he drilled greater than 44ha of Mascani on the 1,200ha of largely arable land he farms at – half as tenants Fordham and Allen on Portsmouth Estates, and the opposite half in a contract farming cope with the property.

He already grows added-value cereals equivalent to Maris Otter and Craft winter barleys for brewing or Laureate spring barley to make upmarket Bimber vodka and gin, and his wheat heads to the premium milling market.

Mr Allen is searching for a yield of as much as 7.5t/ha from the winter oats on his soils, which fluctuate from simply labored chalk loams to heavy clay caps, simply south of the M3.

The oats will change a few of his oilseed rape space, as he has given up rising the crop as a consequence of extreme cabbage stem flea beetle injury.

He recognises the crop has a shorter harvest window than many different cereals to chop grain when the standard is excessive, however is assured that he has the mix capability and comparatively small crop space to manage.

Growers Jonathan Arnold (left) and Chris Allen © MAG/David Jones

Peveril Bruce: Matterley Farm, east of Winchester

A couple of miles south-west of Mr Allen, fellow Hampshire farmer Perevil Bruce, remains to be milking 220 cows, and has additionally turned to oats to feed this development market and as a substitute for oilseed rape on his downland farm.

“We’ve got struggled with oilseed rape and now are searching for a break crop, with winter oats and winter linseed filling in,” he says.

Mr Bruce can be optimistic about yields and prospects for his winter oats crop after he drilled 34ha of Mascani final autumn, and is searching for a yield above 6.25t/ha.

He farms 800ha at Matterley Farm, simply east of Winchester on the sting of the rolling South Down, with common winter wheat yields on his chalky soils of simply over 8t/ha.

Though he’s milking 220 cows, he’s blissful to be rising the oats for the brand new enterprise as he sees it as a development market.

Contracts

Each farmers are rising for grain service provider Robin Appel, which is searching for 5,000-10,000t of additional oats this season for a brand new enterprise that may provide among the greatest manufacturers within the liquid oats market.

Jonathan Arnold, the group’s buying and selling director, says the oat drinks market is rarely going to take over from the dairy business, however it’s aimed toward an increasing market for individuals who don’t or can’t drink milk.

“It is a complete new market that’s increasing dramatically, and we might be searching for new growers sooner or later,” he says.

His group, which is already a significant participant within the malting barley market, is just not a newcomer to the oats market because it provides grain to among the large oat millers.

It has contracts with 100-plus growers for 30,000t of oats yearly from farms stretching from Cornwall to the Scottish border, to produce the likes of Morning Meals in Crewe and Richardson Milling of Bedford.

With this sturdy following of growers, it’s now shifting into different development oat markets.

Heavy funding is deliberate to extend capability and replace services at each Crewe and Bedford, and with the brand new Oatly Peterborough plant that is more likely to result in an elevated requirement for oats of about 100,000t in a couple of 12 months’s time.

This can provide growers additional advertising and marketing alternatives for this low-input cereal crop, and assist them to cut back their carbon footprint, and is more likely to discover favour in future Environmental Land Administration  (ELM) schemes.

Mr Arnold has organised his new 25-plus oat growers to develop the established and outdated favorite high quality winter oat selection Mascani or the brand new high-quality, spring selection Isabel, which has the best particular weight on the AHDB Really useful Checklist of types.

High quality necessities

The important thing requirement is to develop these two high quality oat varieties at a minimal particular weight of 50kg/hl, and the contracted value might be at a slight low cost to feed wheat futures, and the contract will permit growers to lock in costs when it fits them.

The harvested grain might be de-hulled and stabilised, after which transported to Shepton Mallet in Somerset, the place the grain dealer has shaped a three way partnership with meals processing group Framptons.

The brand new enterprise, referred to as Plant Meals Bases, might be making and packaging merchandise that can be utilized in oat-based drinks, yoghurt, ice cream, custard, and different desserts and savoury merchandise, together with vegetarian and vegan ranges.

Mr Arnold factors out this enterprise is a superb alternative for growers, as nearly all of these merchandise utilizing oats are imported both within the completed type or in a syrup state to be blended and packaged within the UK.

He’s additionally searching for the longer term at pulse crops, equivalent to peas and beans, for contracts with growers to be used in plant-based drinks, and in addition as a base for meat substitutes and vegan cheeses. 

Prime manufacturers

Oatley milk cartons

© AdobeStock

The 2 main manufacturers for oat drinks are Oatly, which is a vegan model from Sweden, and Alpro, which is owned by the world’s largest yoghurt maker, the Paris-based group Danone.

In March, Oatly introduced plans for a brand new plant in Peterborough to open in 2023, which can have an annual capability to make 300m litres of oat drink, with scope to push that as much as 450m litres and create no less than 200 jobs.

The group says that the UK market has grow to be an vital driver of its development, and general its worldwide gross sales reached £144m in 2019 and was predicted to just about double in 2020.

This speedy development prompted the Malmo-based group to announce plans in February to drift the corporate on the US inventory market in a transfer that might vale the enterprise at as a lot as $10bn regardless of the group being presently loss-making.

UK gross sales of plant-based drinks jumped 16% to £278m up to now 12 months, in line with information firm Nielsen, and inside that oat drink gross sales greater than doubled to £73m.

Traditionally, these plant-based drinks containing soya and almond have been UK market leaders, however oats is quickly eclipsing these in development phrases, helped by its native provenance and enhanced sustainability credentials.

Within the US, oat drinks have grow to be the second-bestselling plant-based drink after almond-based drinks, pushing forward of the once-popular soya.

Oatly has seen sturdy development since getting into the US market in 2016, though the buoyant market has attracted many rivals.

This has been pushed by a shopper shift in the direction of environmentally pleasant merchandise serving to to drive gross sales, and make Oatly the top-selling oat drink amongst retailers within the US, Sweden, Germany and the UK

Again within the UK, Will Martin, enterprise growth director at Framptons, can be seeing related development, with oat merchandise performing properly. His group is a “co-packer” that processes and packages a variety of merchandise for model house owners.

He says latest buyer demand, primarily based on a number of hundred new product enquiries a 12 months, has proven a shift in the direction of plant-based formulation, with eight out of 10 enquiries being plant-based and, of those, 5 are usually oat-based.

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