Oats' newly bestowed status as a superfood is good news for cereal manufacturers, which have been quick to capitalise by incorporating oats in products that will appeal to more than just porridge lovers.

Jordans has launched an oat-based Superfoods range, while Weetabix has broadened its range with the addition of Oatibix.

Carol Flint, Jordans' muesli marketing controller, says: "Oats have fantastic health and nutrition properties. Wholegrain oats are a brilliant base for muesli and other cereals because, as well as their rich nutritional content, they taste good and have a low GI value, which means energy is released slowly into the body. People are increasingly aware of these benefits and that has played a major part in terms of driving market growth."

Health is a key driver throughout the category and all the major cereal manufacturers are pushing the wholegrain heart health message. Kellogg is driving the healthy lifestyle theme further by offering free pedometers with special packs.

A Kellogg spokesman says the impact of the desire for a healthier start to the day has made All Bran the company's fastest-growing brand worldwide. It is planning a major launch later in the year aimed at those who regard fibre content as the biggest issue in their choice of breakfast cereal.

Weetabix chief executive Ken Wood says the health message is evident in both hot and cold products. "Cereals aimed specifically at children are being improved. Across the market as a whole, levels of salt

and sugar in these cereals are being cut."

Kellogg is encouraging children to eat breakfast with Coco Pops Straws which, it says, "have had very positive feedback from mums who face the challenge of getting milk into kids as part of their breakfast routine". The company also points out that it runs a National Breakfast Week aimed at fostering good eating habits at the beginning of the day.

Yet health isn't enough of a factor on its own. Consumers have the same flavour criteria at breakfast as at other meal times and if it tastes bad, it will not sell.

"We know that the trend is towards healthier breakfasts, but they need to taste good, too," says Peter Farquhar, MD of Dorset Cereals. "In the past, people thought they should eat muesli even if it didn't taste very nice. Now they want a better taste."

The company is addressing this through different combinations of grains, seeds and fruits that have greater appeal among young adults, moving the target audience from the traditional 55 to 60-year-olds

to 35 to 45-year-olds. n

Drinks Refresher course teaches benefits

The trend towards healthier consumption is boosting pure juice products at the start of the day, and the adoption of certain fruits as superfoods in the public consciousness is giving the market a sharp focus.

The single most popular flavour of juice remains traditional orange, but media stories around the health benefits of fruits, such as blueberries and pomegranates, have boosted trade in new areas, too.

Will Gharli, marketing director for non-carbonated beverage lines at PepsiCo, says juice companies do not have to promote the benefits of newer fruits because the media are doing it for them. "People are increasingly interested in the new flavours," he notes. "So, both the core business is growing, as is people's appetite for new varieties."

To exploit the enthusiasm for newer tastes, Pepsi-Co has launched a blueberry blend under its Tropicana range and, since January, Tropicana Essentials with Benecol has been aimed at those with concerns over cholesterol levels.

All companies in the sector are conscious that soft drinks growth is coming from the still and healthier sectors and Coca-Cola Enterprises has exploited that by launching its not-from-concentrate Minute Maid juices to the UK market in June last year. Companies are also targeting younger consumers: Coca-Cola with Froot Refresh, a 50:50 mixture of juice and water, and PepsiCo with its Tropicana Go! range, a 70:30 mix.

The overall juice market is up, with ACNielsen data showing that it is worth £1.65bn and growing at 14.5% each year. Companies are noting a trend towards premium products.

"We're seeing a more foodie culture, driven by Jamie Oliver," Gharli says.

And people are prepared to abandon other drinks for juices. Tea & Coffee Trade Journal states: "Tea's decline is blamed on competition from new products such as fruit teas and the growing range of cold drinks. This means that young people are increasingly not getting into the tea-drinking habit."

However, tea suppliers are fighting back with the health argument, the advocates of which point out that a cuppa contains twice the antioxidant power of an apple. Green tea is also now noted as having properties that fight the onset of Alzheimer's Disease and aid blood circulation. The antioxidant properties of coffee have yet to enter the public consciousness.

Milk is also on the health bandwagon with brands containing Omega-3 ,while soya-based product specialist Alpro is set to promote its portfolio on the basis of the health benefits, rather than being just for those with a lactose intolerance. n