Quaker's involvement in oat research does not need to be compromised by its interest in the sector and should be supported given the lack of funding from elsewhere, says an analyst.
PepsiCo-owned Quaker has introduced three scientists to head up a scientific advisory board at its oat science hub. The three experts have food science and nutrition backgrounds and will use their knowledge to research the health benefits and possible applications of oats.
Speaking to BakeryandSnacks.com, strategic insight manager at Leatherhead Food Research Emma Gubisch backed the move by Quaker but warned that it would need to execute findings carefully, given its business in oats.
“We have to be realistic. If we want this work to be done in this day and age, it’s going to be big companies that fund it,” Gubisch told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“There isn’t really the money for government or independent organizations to do this work.”
A firm like Quaker is also very well placed to drive research into oats, given its close know-how on the area, she added.
Ensuring unbiased science
Quaker said it is committed to sharing credible research conducted by third party scientists. It cited a statement from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) that said it is not the funding mechanism that makes a study trustworthy, but rather the scientific process.
“As a trusted leader in whole grain oats, it makes sense for Quaker to drive and lead these developments,” said Candace Mueller-Medina, senior director of communications at Quaker Foods North America.
Gubisch said there will always be questions on how independent scientific research is, particularly from the ever-inquisitive consumer who wants to know more about technologies, science and complex information.
“The tricky thing is that consumers want it to be from an unbiased source – they want the truth. But in science, there are always different views and findings. You’re probably not going to get one arbitrator of the truth,” she said.
She warned that the credibility of Quaker’s research would be dependent on its execution. “They need to be mindful about how they position the science and findings – it needs to be done carefully.”
She said Quaker would just need to be as transparent as possible when presenting data and findings.
Quaker and oat science
Quaker has long been researching oat science, particularly the health benefits related to consumption. Its scientific hub the ‘Center of Excellence’ was launched to do just that. The newly formed scientific advisory board will work within this.