Health conscious consumers drive UK oat sales

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Hot cereals, Porridge, Oat, Breakfast cereal, Mintel

Hot cereals such as porridge and oatmeal are benefiting from a
revival among Britain's health conscious consumers, according to
Mintel.

The market analyst says that between 2003 and 2005, value sales of oats increased by a massive 26 per cent.

And overall, since the start of the millennium, sales grew by an impressive 81 per cent reaching 85 million in 2005. Meanwhile, over the same five year period, volume sales also increased by a healthy 43 per cent with Britons consuming 50,000 tonnes of oat-based products last year alone.

"The popularity of porridge has seen something of a revolution, cooking up a storm not only in the home but also in Britain's cafes and sandwich shops,"​ said senior market analyst Julie Sloan.

"The success of porridge is almost entirely due to its convenience and its healthy positioning, both of which are key requirements for food in the 21st century.

"It is amazing to see this simple staple now giving more modern and seemingly more adventurous cereals a real run for their money, which is particularly impressive given the amount of investment ploughed in to new launches in the cereal market."

Some analysts believe that the growing popularity of the Glycaemic Index diet (GI), a regime that promotes foods with a slow release of sugar, has boosted demand for oat-based products, which have a naturally low GI.

As the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets wanes, and the obesity epidemic grows, science is emerging showing that low-GI foods can help control weight. Porridge and other oat-based products could be benefiting on the back of this.

In stark contrast, the cold cereal market grew by just 13 per cent and 8 per cent in value and volume terms respectively during this time.

Mintel predicts that the hot cereals segment will yet again dominate growth over the next five years, rising considerably in value terms but three times faster in volume than cold cereals in cold terms (23 per cent versus 7 per cent) albeit from a smaller base. Although growing at a slower rate than the previous five years, the hot cereal segment will continue full steam ahead.

"Hot cereals have the potential to open up the market to a wider audience,"​ said Sloan. "The natural health benefits should outlive its current 'en vogue' status, however, it is important that as the summer monthsapproach, they are not forgotten.

"In terms of the future, it is too early to say whether this is a temporary phase, with the high-profile Gillian McKeith from the program 'You Are What You Eat' advocating porridge as a low-GI meal option, and even the contestants on the most recent Celebrity Big Brother eating porridge on a daily basis."

The report Breakfast cereals in the UK​ is available from Mintel priced 995.

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