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Oat Bytes


Driven by host of health-related benefits, oats consumption is gaining popularity among Indian consumers. Going by the changing consumer preferences, manufacturers are also value-adding their brands with oats. BVK Raju, Joint Managing Director at Hyderabad-based supermarket, Q-Mart, talks about  latest trends and performance of oats being observed in his store.

What are trends being observed in shopping and consumption pattern of oats?

Oats in all forms have been seeing a phenomenal growth, be it cereals, breads, cookies, Indian style or health bars. There is a growing perception that oats is good for the heart and reduces cholesterol. Consumers now believe that oats are an excellent source of carbohydrate, protein and dietary fibre. Hence oats are seen as a great way to start the day.

However, there is still a lot of resistance from consumers towards consumption as they  are still perceived by many as a health food to be consumed during sickness or in the course of recovering from illness. Secondly, oats do not appeal to the taste of Indians who are traditionally acustom to eating hot and spicy food for breakfast rather than sweet. There are some companies, who have tried to address this concern by introducing instant or easy-to-cook spicy oats in various flavours as a breakfast option. Brands are also experimenting with oats-based products, which can be consumed as replacements for suji, poha and rice for making traditional Indian dishes such as idlis, dosas etc. But these innovations are yet to yield substantial results.

Which is the largest selling oat-based product and brand in your store?

Quaker Oats is the largest selling brand in our store followed by Baggry’s and other oats based muesli. This is basically because they have been the first movers and Quaker is the most renowned brand in oats.

According to you what is the scope of introducing private labels in the space?

At this point of time, I personally don’t see any scope for private labels in oats category, which has just started growing and needs a tremendous push, in terms of marketing and promotion, innovation, experimentation, and altering the eating habits of the consumers to a large extent. All this requires a lot of investment, and grocers do not have the muscle to undertake activities required to establish themselves at this stage of the category.

What is the fill rate of largest selling oat-based products?

We have a fill rate of 95 percent in our stores.

According to you what are the challenges curbing the growth of the segment?

Major challenges are breaking the mental blocks of the consumers against oats; introducing interesting savoury variants/ options of oats, as Indian consumers prefer salty breakfast to sweet, this is a tedious task as consumers across the country have heterogeneous eating habits and manufacturers need come out with innovations to suit the varying needs. Another big challenge is eradicate the status of oats being a breakfast meal oats, wherever known by the consumers in India are seen as a breakfast option. This perception needs to be removed and oats need to be depicted as an alternate to lunch, dinner and snacks as well.

Going ahead what is the future of oats in India ?

We believe, oats in all forms are here to stay and will grow rapidly. But this growth will be directly proportional to the innovation and push given by the various players in the segment. Our role as retailers will be giving this category its importance through shelf visibility and getting the products to the consumers.