New Innovator: Oatiful Smoothie
Eamon Doherty, general manager of Kilkenny Food Company
The once humble oat is now well-established as one of today’s superfood heroes. Nutritional interest in this high-fibre, cholesterol-busting grain has resulted in a string of new oat-related products from Irish food producers.
The latest is Oatiful, an oat-based smoothie from Kilkenny Food Company launched in April this year. The product is currently in its rollout phase and so far is available in Tesco, Spar, Londis and Gala stores.
Mankind has been cultivating oats since about 7000 BC, and everyone knows that porridge is good for you. But despite the health benefits, facing a bowl of cooked oats first thing in the morning does not have universal appeal, which is where the Oatiful smoothie comes in.
“It is essentially a breakfast drink and is a mix of oats and semiskimmed milk in strawberry, blueberry and honey flavours,” says Eamon Doherty, general manager of Kilkenny Food Company.
“It contains 30g of oats, which is roughly equivalent to an average cooked portion and is low in fat and a good source of vitamin B12. We haven’t done a major launch for Oatiful – we wanted the product to do the talking.”
Kilkenny Food Company is the food business unit of Glanbia Consumer Foods and was set up in October 2012. It has two plants, in Kilkenny and Clonmel, and apart from the Oatiful smoothie the company also makes custard, rice pudding, sandwich fillings and garlic bread.
Investment of about €200,000 was put behind the development of the Oatiful smoothie, including the creation of a modern bottling facility at the Kilkenny plant.
“Oats are very much on trend and people are becoming more and more aware of their functional benefits and positive impact on health,” Doherty says. “Modern consumers are very tuned into the idea of drinking fruit smoothies and the Oatiful is a new twist on that.”
Kilkenny Food Company is in the early days of developing a portfolio of fresh and chilled foods for sale in Ireland but that also have substantial export potential.
The company draws inspiration for new production from the main Glanbia Innovation Centre and also has its own development chef and sees itself as at leading edge of ready-to-go consumer foods.
The Oatiful smoothie is the company’s second product launch this year. In January it unveiled a four-strong line-up of soups for the lunchtime market,with flavours inspired by international cuisine. The range is being sold under the Fusion and Street label.
In the pipeline for launch later this year are new ranges of pestos and garlic breads, while 2014 will see the launch of a range of organic baby foods that will sell under the Harry’s Little World brand.