Exploring the opportunities for Scottish oat growers and businesses within the milk alternatives market was the focus of a recent Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS) group which is in the process of establishing an Association of Independent Oat Milk Producers in Scotland.
The project, which was supported by SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College, addressed the need for collaboration and development within the Scottish oat milk sector.
Alistair Trail, senior consultant with SAC Consulting who facilitated the group, said: “The group started because SAC Consulting was receiving a lot of enquires from farmers and businesses interested in developing a Scottish oat milk from seeing the success of other brands.
“There are currently no large-scale manufacturers of oat milk in Scotland. A small number of micro businesses in Scotland are producing perishable fresh oat milk and the logistical challenges of cold-chain delivery mean that these businesses are only supplying their individual, local markets.
“By collaborating, as part of the Association of Independent Oat Milk Producers member businesses will be able to get involved in several areas which can help the sector grow in Scotland.”
The project, which ran from August to December last year, consisted of meetings with various guest speakers, with an aim of providing an opportunity for collaboration, knowledge exchange and to discuss the biggest challenges and opportunities they face.
“The industry in Scotland is in its infancy and must compete with large international brands like Alpro and Oatley. By collaborating, the individual niche manufacturers will be able to share resources and help the fledging industry compete against the large multinational competitors,” said Mr Trail..
Callum McCadden and Alex Baldwin from Untitled Oats, a start-up which supplies its Untitled Oat Drink to independent retailers, led discussions during the final meeting on establishing an Association of Independent Oat Milk Producers.
“As a recent start-up, it was extremely valuable to be part of the RISS group and hear from others more experienced in the sector, and to make useful connections with other stakeholders in various parts of the supply chain,” said Mr Baldwin..
“We are keen to develop an association of Scottish oat milk producers; there are many opportunities for this group to grow in the future, without detracting from our individual operations or losing IP. This could include legal expertise, joint research and marketing, or joint use of a UHT facility as previously discussed in the RISS meetings.”
The ultimate aim of the association will be to give producers a further opportunity to collaborate and benefit from having a shared voice when discussing issues with government bodies and have better representation in industry discussions. It is hoped this will allow the group to apply for funding for sector wide issues and projects and position the sector to compete against dairy and other plant milks.
“I might be biased, but we grow some of the best oats in the world and this project has been a great opportunity to bring different stakeholders together to discuss how we can make Scotland a leader in the industry,” concluded Mr Trail.
For further information on the Association of Independent Oat Milk Producers contact: Alistair Trail, SAC Consulting at firstname.lastname@example.org