Oat cuisine: Britain bowled over by porridge
As the European winter draws nearer, Mintel has drawn attention to the huge popularity of oats porridge in Britain. New research reveals, one in two Brits (49%) are porridge eaters, with a quarter (23%) of users enjoying a bowl almost daily.
While usage peaks amongst those aged between 45 and 54, with some 56% of this group enjoying porridge, an impressive four in ten (39%) of 16-24 year olds also enjoy their oats.
Sales of porridge are thriving as Brits trade up to an increasing array of premium and on-the-go porridge products. The hot cereals segment has proved to be the star performer within the breakfast cereals market, between 2008 and 2013, sales of hot cereals – largely made up of porridge – almost doubled reaching a scrumptious £241-million in 2013.
As well as value increases, the market for hot cereals has also seen volume expansion, sales increasing a heart warming 20% over the same five year period rising from 65-million kg in 2008 to 81-million kg in 2013.
Overall, nine in ten (92%) consumers have eaten breakfast cereals, including porridge, in the past six months.
Heidi Lanschuetzer, Food and Drinks Analyst at Mintel said: “With an increased selection of higher priced porridge options now available, Brits have not just been consuming more porridge, but trading up to more varieties of flavours and packaging options when they do consume it.
“While porridge has found a way to tap into the out of home breakfast occasion, the segment has also benefited from oats’ inherent health benefits, notably the fact that they can lower cholesterol, as well as their widely held associations with satiety – a factor which is of particular importance when it comes to buying breakfast cereals.
“Given that the usage of porridge stands at half of all Brits, the hot cereals segment still offers strong potential for future growth in areas such as vitamin or mineral fortification or flavour innovation.”
However, things are a looking a little less healthy for RTE (ready-to-eat) cereals such as corn flakes and muesli. Accounting for the remaining 85% of breakfast cereals, value sales are estimated to reach around £1.4-billion in 2013, up by a lacklustre 1% against 2012, while volume sales are estimated to decline by 4% to 361-million kg in 2013. As many as 88% have eaten a ready-to-eat cereal and 57% have had plain cereal including corn flakes.
“RTE cereals have suffered from the rising competition posed by alternative breakfast products such as breakfast biscuits, cereal bars and pastries, which lend themselves better for the on-the-go occasion, as well as from the growing popularity of porridge.” Heidi continues.
Going forward, volume sales of RTE cereals are expected to remain static. While the hot cereals market has benefited strongly from the recent cold winter, Mintel expects the hot cereals segment to maintain some of its recent momentum, growing by 13% to reach 92-million kg in 2018, while inflationary pressures and trading up are expected to continue to drive value growth of 46% over 2013-18 to reach £353-million.
Porridge: the breakfast with legs
…Porridge is a food with a lot going for it. Have you ever heard of any other breakfast that has been heralded as revolutionising the development of life in Britain?
Alistair Moffat is the former rector of the University of St Andrews and chief executive of BritainsDNA, which uses DNA to analyse Britons’ ancestry. He holds that when porridge was invented, as farming became organised in Britain, “it became possible to wean infants from their mother’s breasts [with it] which made their mothers more readily fertile.”
Instead of breast feeding their child for years, the children got their nutrients from porridge. It is, he stresses, educated conjecture – but, nonetheless, it is unlikely anyone is ever going to make that claim for, say, Shreddies.
Even if one puts to one side its supposed value as an evolutionary kick-starter, its health benefits are enough to have one searching out the oat aisle.
Jeya Henry, professor of nutrition at Oxford Brookes University, points to three health benefits in particular. Porridge contains a considerable amount of fibre, both soluble and insoluble, which is good for digestion.
It is also low in GI, so you feel fuller for longer and the most interesting benefit derives from oat’s beta-glucan content, which, Henry points out, has been shown to reduce cholesterol. If any food deserves that over-used title “super”, it is probably porridge
“I would recommend it as a breakfast cereal,” says Henry. “The only caveat is lots of us use the instant, ‘just add water’ stuff, which is high in GI because it has been ‘instantised’, so pre-processed, and is consequently higher in GI. But even then, though, it is better than many breakfast foods and certainly better than none at all.”…..
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