For several years, the vegan food market has been growing steadily, with one of the biggest growth markets is in drinking products to replace milk for vegan coffee drinkers. While the lion’s share of animal-friendly replacement products has been made up of soya-based products, another best seller – much to the delight of Bavarian farmers – are oats.
Fuelled by the huge demand for oat drinks, oat muesli and oat cookies, organic oats are selling like figurative hot cakes. Almost all retail and drugstore chains have started offering German oats. And this is not only good for vegan coffee drinkers but also good news – and even better, good business – for Bavarian farmers.
This year, organic oats will be grown on 24,500 hectares in Bavaria, a 15% increase on the previous year. The Free State is Germany’s largest producer of organic oats. Ten years ago, however, things looked quite different, when oats were shipped mostly from Scandinavia and the Baltic States. The long Nordic summer days were perfect for gowing thick, heavy oat grains. German farmers could not compete with this quality and also with the lower prices, making cultivation unattractive.
The prices for organic oats, on the other hand, are currently very attractive for Bavarian farmers. The price of organic oats is €300 to €350 per tonne, 20% more than three years ago.
Oat-based “barista” drinks are used as creamy replacements for cow’s milk and have grown in popularity, principally as a result of the increased focus on the environmental impact of traditional farming practices.
In addition, more and more customers are asking for regionally grown produce, even in supermarkets. Almost all retail and drugstore chains have switched to German oats.
Another advantage of oats is that they are easy to cultivate. Oats are seen as a healthy crop in the field – many cereal pests do not reproduce in oats, which interrupts the transmission of diseases. Oats also require little fertilizer and, in conventional cultivation, little pesticide. This makes them ideal for the switch to organic farming.
For more information on the health benefits of organic oats and research and trials on the cultivation of oats in Bavaria, visit the Ökolandbau website (in German).