Porridge and hot cereals are steaming ahead as consumers wake up to the health benefits of oats and manufacturers launch new variants of old favourites in more convenient formats

Porridge and oat-based cereals are hot and sales have continued to steam ahead in the past year, boosted by increased publicity and the growth in consumer understanding of the link between health and diet.
“The growing media coverage of the associated health benefits of hot cereals has certainly had an impact on sales,” according to PepsiCo customer insights director Phil Norminton. “As more and more people have become aware of the health benefits of oats, porridge sales have grown.”
The sector continues to be boosted by new editions of more convenient formats, with new variants launched under both the Seriously Oaty from Weetabix and Quaker Oatso Simple brands.
“Within the hot cereals category, convenience products are driving the sector forward, suggesting significant future sales development in this area,” says
Weetabix CEO Ken Wood.
Oatso Simple remains the star performer in the hot cereals sector and is now the 13th bestselling cereal brand in the total cereal category [ACNielsen 52 w/e October 1, 2005].
During the year, Quaker made it even easier for health-conscious consumers to get their oats by adding three new variants to its hot cereals portfolio: Take Heart, Organic Oats and Oatso Simple Raspberry.
Weetabix, meanwhile, recently launched Seriously Oaty Hearty, which focuses on the functional benefits of oats to help lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy heart. The company also updated its Ready Brek brand to fit in with the convenience age by launching the original variant in individual sachets for the first time, as well as extending the range to appeal to a younger generation.
And, according to Jordans, the hot cereals sector has indeed succeeded in shedding its old-fashioned image.
“Once considered a boring breakfast option, porridge has transformed itself into a fashionable choice to start the day,” says Jordans brand manager Matthew Raw. “Many diets advocate porridge as the ideal breakfast, providing a slow release of energy to keep you going for longer.”
Waking up to the growing popularity of hot cereals, several retailers have been busy trying to cash in on the trend. Waitrose increased space for instant hot oat sachets last September, launching an incremental 12 SKUs to offer consumers a far broader range of healthy oat products.
Meanwhile, Nisa-Today’s advised its members to stock Quaker Oatso Simple sachets and 1kg bags of porridge, either Quaker, Scott’s or Nisa-Today’s Heritage.