Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What's up with oatmeal?

I've been noticing a rising trend in the last couple of years, and even more so in recent months: There seems to be a resurgence of interest in cooked oat cereals. Walk down any cereal aisle and you will notice that the selection of instant oatmeals is quite significant.

Years ago preparing oatmeal from scratch using oats, especially from Quaker, was a morning staple. The advent of prepared, cold cereals has obviously changed things for the majority of people. Could it be that in the midst recession or because of a desire for things more natural that porridge in general, and oatmeal in particular, are "hot" commodities?

For a number of years now Quaker has offered convenience through its Instant Oatmeal products. Quaker certainly dominates the market as in most consumers' minds they own the word "oats". But, others are recognizing the opportunity and getting into the action. Some are obvious, like Kashi. But there are newcomers to the market place as well. These include smaller, niche companies that are focusing on being natural, such as Pro Oats and Umpqua Oats. Even cranberry specialist, Ocean Spray, has a new line of instant oatmeal. And, the company that seems to be shaking things up right now is Better Oats, a newcomer that is gaining considerable traction with almost 30 varieties covering a range of preferences and styles. Some of the innovative flavors include dark chocolate and chai spiced.

Could it be that consumers are looking for a change, and that this could continue to be a growing market? What do you think?

UPDATED 11/7/10: Some additional evidence: http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2010/10/oats-driving-breakfast-cereal-launches.aspx

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1 comment:

Tchad said...


I am a student at Boston University doing a semester-long team project focused on cereal. Would you be willing to talk to us informally about your observations of the market over the past several years? I believe that with your familiarity of the marketplace you could help us a great deal with just a few minutes of your time. I will give you more details if you are interested. Please e-mail me at rogerst@bu.edu

Thanks in any case,

Tchad Rogers