VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Finnish Oat association arranged the 1st Food Oats Conference on 8-9 June 2021. International conference brought together the top experts in the field to discuss the latest findings and innovations in oat-based ingredient and food development, as well as the health impacts and consumer insights.

Thanks to its health-promoting properties and sustainability reasons, oats have attracted a lot of well-deserved attention. Oats are applied to more diverse uses than before as a raw material for innovative food products. Finland is one of the world's biggest oats producers and a leading country in oat research and innovations.

With globally recognized keynote speakers, the Food Oats Conference addressed the oat research and innovations.

”High quality oat production begins with collaboration and rigorous evaluation of varieties and crop management by producers, oat breeders, plant pathologists, food scientists, oat millers and processors”, says Dr Nancy Ames from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Docent Tuula Sontag-Strohm from University of Helsinki and Finnish OatHow consortium talked about unique potential of oats in food applications. “We are experiencing an oat invasion in foods. In 2016 we consumed 6 kilos oats per person in Finland. In 2019 oat food use was already 9,5 kilos per capita”, Sontag -Strohm emphasized.

Associate Professor Lieselotte Cloetens from Lund University talked about significant health-promoting properties and high potential to metabolic-diseases. “Oats are nutrient dense and an excellent source of essential nutrients. Oat beta-glucans have significant health-effects. Increased oat intake should be recommended to the whole population”, Cloetens noted.

Based on the several clinical intervention studies ongoing and the new knowledge on the gut mediated effects, we can foresee new health claims for oats in the upcoming years.

Professor of Practice Reetta Kivelä from University of Helsinki told Oats’ Cinderella story. “Health is still the biggest trend in a market. But it is not the only trend. Consumers are also interested how the food affects to the environment. Oats answers to both questions”, Kivelä highlighted.

“We do see that diverse oat research is very important and we are confident that we can take positive research findings further and apply them to our R&D and commercial activities. This is the way consumers, in the end, can get the full benefit out of oats”, says Jussi Loponen, Head of Fazer Lab, Fazer Group’s research and innovation unit. Fazer is the main sponsor of the conference.

Taken together, the conference proven that there a is clear potential to transform oat from being a minor crop to main crop, globally. “The active oat research community, continuous innovations, and significantly increasing food oat industry clearly indicate that we can make oats as mainstream”, concluded Emilia Nordlund from VTT (the conference host). Oat matters - for the planet and the people!

The recording of this livestream event, presentations and posters are available on a fee basis until end of June 2021: https://events.liveto.io/events/1st-food-oats-conference?access_key=oat

Complimentary media registration info@kaurayhdistys.fi
Twitter: #foodoats2021

Further information
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd Dr Emilia Nordlund, Research Manager, Coordinator of Finnish OatHow consortium tel. +358 40 5042963, emilia.nordlund@vtt.fi

Fazer, General Mills, Inc., Gold&Green Foods, Helsingin Mylly / Helsinki Mills, Kinnusen Mylly/ 65 Oats, Myllyn Paras, Oddlygood™, PepsiCo, Ravintoraisio Oy/Raisio Nutrition Ltd, Vaasan Ltd