Oat drink maker eyes B2B opportunity: ‘Brexit may result in more demand for our British made products’

By Katy Askew contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: GettyImages-YelemaYenchUK
Pic: GettyImages-YelemaYenchUK

Related tags: oat milk, oat drink, Brexit, plant-based

Glebe Farm, the maker of oat drink brand PureOaty, is developing its business-to-business model. Managing director Rebecca Rayner tells FoodNavigator the company expects to see a jump in demand, supported by category growth and Brexit disruption.

Glebe Farm is now able to supply its oat drink in bulk, a move that targets retailers and other manufacturers. The gluten-free oat drink is now available in a 1,000lt pallecon format.

“With the opening of the new oat drink plant at our farm in Cambridgeshire, we have set ourselves up for future growth in this area. This is the first and only oat drink plant of this scale in the UK and so the next step was always going to be to provide a bulk delivery service to other businesses. The 1,000lt pallecon format is the most efficient and sustainable method for us to do this​,” Rayner said.

Glebe’s oat drink is made using four ingredients: oats, water, sunflower oil and salt. All the oars are grown within 75 miles of the Cambridgeshire farm.

“We produce the only oat drink that is made in the UK from gluten-free British oats. We use four ingredients in our oat drink and we never use an oat concentrate. Our seed-to-shelf philosophy and our whole approach to our farm and product range is what has resonated with our customers, both trade and consumer,”​ she observed.

Rising demand for oat drinks

The plant-based movement continues to gain momentum in the UK. Retailers have reported rising plant-based sales over the lockdown period introduced in the wake of COVID-19, resulting in increased shelf-space for plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy.

Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, now stocks over 400 lines of plant-based products. The supermarket group revealed that is a 46% increase since last year with a further 30% increase planned for the coming 12 months.

Increased demand is certainly something that Glebe has witnessed, Rayner told FoodNavigator. “Sales of plant-based alternatives to dairy are on the increase and consumers are looking beyond dairy for a number of reasons including taste preference, health and environmental concerns… We have seen an increase in demand for our entire range of gluten-free oat products, from granola to PureOaty and this has likely been due to the lockdown.”

Looking to the future, Rayner said she anticipates rising demand from manufacturers and retailers – as well as a rebound in the out-of-home channel as lockdown restrictions ease. The new capacity coming online means Glebe will be able to respond to this.

“There is a big demand for oat drink across all sectors and we anticipate significant volume being taken by manufacturers looking to make other oat-based products such as ice creams, cakes, puddings, etcetera, as well as being driven by OOH. The recently completed expansion means Glebe Farm can be flexible in how we work with third parties and we are open to working with retailers operating under their own brand as well as keeping up with demand for our PureOaty oat drink.”

Brexit boost?

With the possibility of a no-deal Brexit growing with each passing week, Rayner hopes that Glebe will be able to turn this into an opportunity for the British oat business to supply its domestic market.

“We have identified the possibility that Brexit may result in more demand for our British made products and we are well placed to service an increase,” ​she suggested.

Glebe is optimistic about its decision to invest, despite the significant market uncertainty surrounding both Brexit trade talks and the coronavirus crisis, which has disrupted the food sector.

“Our investment commenced early last year, 2019, before anyone had even heard of COVID 19, so that had little impact on our decision. We have been driven by the natural expansion in the oat category and the demand for oat drink in retail and foodservice.”

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