- As millennial shoppers continue to add healthy foods to their menu, Quaker Foods plans to promote the health benefits of oatmeal, the Chicago Tribune reported. Sales of Quaker’s hot cereal products represent about 70% of the division's business and are growing domestically as consumers turn to healthier food options.
- Quaker Oats, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, now offers foods marketed as organic, non-GMO and gluten-free, which Chicago-based market research firm Datassential said attracts the interest of younger consumers. Quaker plans to start aggressively marketing in early October as hot-food season begins.
- Robbert Rietbroek, senior vice president and general manager for Quaker Foods North America, told the Chicago Tribune that the months following October usually constitute the bulk of oat sales, but this year April, May and June sales were slightly higher than usual. “What’s funny is that we thought that everybody knew that oats are healthy — heart healthy, gut healthy — and give you long-lasting energy. It turns out we need to remind consumers every year. … We can’t assume they know,” Rietbroek recently told the newspaper.
Oatmeal has been on a roll in recent years, with overnight oatmeal dishes becoming a darling of Instagram posts.
For those who don’t have the time or ambition for the overnight variety, food companies have had success marketing to consumers looking for convenience. Quaker Oats, which accounts for more than 60% of the oatmeal category, experienced first-year success with its single-serve Overnight Oats line, Food Business News said earlier this year. And Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods’ sales jumped 13% in 2017, driven by oatmeal cups. Before the line launched, the company said its customers were asking for oatmeal “on the go.” The company has created hip new flavors aimed to please millennials, such as organic cranberry orange oatmeal, and recently turned to expanding the line to include organic options.
Although Quaker apparently feels a need to more aggressively market the healthfulness of oatmeal, a Mintel study found 40% of the demographic believes pouring a bowl of cereal is too much work, suggesting the cereal’s real obstacle is that people feel it's a pain to prepare. The study said the healthy aspect of oatmeal may have helped the product as consumers are increasingly seeking healthier meal options — unit sales for oatmeal jumped nearly 2% last year. And as cold cereal sales continue to struggle, the opportunity is ripe for oatmeal to gain even more market share. Perhaps Quaker feels now that people see oatmeal can be convenient and on trend, they should be reminded of how healthy it can be.
With new products being introduced all the time, especially ones that are healthier, contain a simple roster of ingredients and are on point with what consumers are looking for, even standbys like oatmeal can't afford to rest on their laurels. Oatmeal sales aren't going to suddenly disappear, but for them to remain steady and even grow, manufactures are going to need to tout the product and promote its benefits to consumers to stand out. PepsiCo seems to have figured that out. For other companies in the food and beverage space, they would be wise to heed the same advice for their products.