Mornflake Oats launched its first gluten-free oats range last month following two years of development. The oat miller has a line of finished breakfast cereal s and also supplies ingredients to manufacturers across the UK and parts of Europe.
Richard Jones, marketing manager at Mornflake, said that while there were a few other companies making gluten-free certified oats, the sector remained nascent.
“It’s still relatively early days and the market is growing, and growth will largely depend on whether consumers stick with gluten-free or decide it’s a fad and move on,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“But we’re very much supporting the category. If we can make sure it’s established, that should mean there is enough sort of momentum to get the trend to stick. When that happens, once the category has matured, there will probably be less room for the myriad of companies there are in it. And at that point, the deciding factor will be consumer perception on quality and value,” he said.
Glanbia Foods and Glebe Farm Foods are among some other players on the market supplying gluten-free oats.
Jones said Mornflake wanted to boost gluten-free oat sales to £5m within the next three to five years.
Retail end products versus industry supply
Asked how Mornflake hoped business would split for gluten-free oats – in terms of end product cereals versus oats supplied to manufacturers – he said the company would continue to divide equally.
“We’ve always had both and it’s just a mix. Our core strength is the milling of oats… It’s not a particular goal of ours to preference one part of the business over the other,” he said.
However, he said there was likely to be a boom in gluten-free oat ingredient demand in the short-term. “I think you’ll probably see a ballooning in ingredients demand over the next six to 12 months.”
For manufacturers using the gluten-free oats, Jones said biscuits and flapjacks presented opportunities.
“The products with slightly more negative health connotations like biscuits and flapjacks are the ones manufacturers are more interested in offering something different to their consumers. We’ve seen a significant interest from biscuit and cake manufacturers, for example,” he said.
Asked why, he said: “It’s more to do with the fact that their existing portfolio of products is coming under a lot of scrutiny. So, if they can widen their offerings to include gluten-free and reduced fat and sugar, that’s where the interest is. There’s a lot of focus on sugar at the moment and although gluten-free doesn’t come under that umbrella, it’s under that marketing drive to make things healthier for savvy, lifestyle-aware consumers.”