Quaker Oats has been synonymous with innovation throughout its history. In fact, Quaker Oats was registered as the first trademark for a breakfast cereal back in 1877.

The brand claimed the first national magazine advertising programme for a breakfast cereal in 1882.

Subsequent milestones included becoming the first brand to feature a recipe on its box (in 1891), the launch of Quaker Quick Oats, one of the first convenience products (1922), the first instant oatmeal flavour (1970), the first chewy granola bars (Quaker Chewy, in 1981) and the first food-specific health claim for oatmeal (1997).

Matt Goddard, Wholesale Trading Director at PepsiCo, tells Wholesale Manager what trends are driving the cereals category and what merchandising advice he has for wholesalers.

How would you sum up Quaker’s history?

Quaker Oats celebrated its 140th anniversary in 2017, and it has continued to go from strength to strength. The Quaker name was chosen by founded Henry Parsons Crowell in 1877, who claimed to have selected it as a symbol of good quality and honest value; values that are still at the heart of the brand today. We have continued to live up to the founder’s vision, providing nutritional breakfasts through oats.

Can you talk us through your brand portfolio?

Today, the Quaker Oats portfolio is vast. We have everything from traditional rolled oats, to convenient Porridge To Go bars as the most recent addition, plus everything in between, including granola, muesli, Cuppa Porridge, Oat So Simple Porridge Pots, Oat Crisp cereal and our Oat So Simple Morning Bars.

The versatility of oats is huge, not just through our wide range of products but also how people use the brand portfolio. Our ‘Go Forridge’ campaign really brings this to life, inspiring the nation to get imaginative with their oats and add ingredients from their cupboards, fridges and freezers to create a variety of porridge toppings for new flavour combinations.

Does Quaker have a range of PMPs?

Quaker offers a range of PMPs across its pots, sachets and traditional oats. The total Quaker PMP range has grown +16.78% YTD; traditional oats PMP seeing the greatest growth of +26.9% in Independents and Symbols1. Recently, we’ve re-launched our 1kg Traditional Oats proposition with a new price marked pack, available for £1.99 RRP. Traditional Oats have grown hugely during the recent pandemic, so it’s important retailers are able to offer larger pack sizes at great value. The new price marked pack is a great way to provide consumers with a better value proposition.

What is the value of the UK cereals category?

The Hot Cereals segment is worth approximately £8.7m in the impulse channel2, with Quaker playing a large role in driving the segment within the channel3.

What trends are driving the market?

We have seen consumer habits and priorities change in recent months when it comes to cereals. Fewer shoppers have been skipping breakfast, with attitudes continuing to shift to recognise it as the most important meal of the day, with Brits eating 660m additional breakfasts4. In addition, consumers are considering the health benefits of what they eat and drink5, which is likely to see segments that are natural and unprocessed experience growth. Quaker Oats caters perfectly to this change in consumer demand with its naturally-occurring health benefits and low sugar content and – as a natural, raw ingredient – we lend ourselves to scratch cooking solutions.

We know that COVID has changed the world as we know it, so we commissioned a shopper sentiment study to really get under the skin of the nation’s ever-changing feelings, habits and behaviours. We found that while more breakfasts are being enjoyed at home, it has been happening two hours later and a third of people are spending more time making it6. Oats lend themselves to scratch cooking, so consumers can spend more time creating the perfect meal, adding additional ingredients to their oats that they have in the house to keep the meal exciting but also considering the health benefits.

We know that many businesses are looking to continue to offer greater flexibility even as we come out the other side of the pandemic, perhaps allowing them to work from home more frequently, but we also suspect on-the-go options will see a resurgence as people inevitably start to travel back in the office a few days a week. We obviously cannot predict at this stage what is going to happen, but we do know that people have been loving oats!

What effect has Covid-19 had on the breakfast category?

We have seen that breakfast consumption has grown over the pandemic, with an increased focus on the hot cereals segment, with market share increasing by +18%7. We believe this segment has continued to grow share as more consumers look for healthier breakfast options and as we continue to innovate and bring new news and excitement with our bespoke and adaptable campaigns. We have also seen growth in convenient breakfast options and those that are perceived as natural and less processed8.

With consumers looking to create scratch breakfast meals from home during lockdown, we tapped in to this trend with the launch of our recent Go Forridge campaign which we kicked off at the start of 2020 and adapted during lockdown with ‘Stay Home. Go Forridge’, to show that you can make delicious porridge using ingredients that are already in your kitchens.

Following the success of Go Forridge, we’re taking recipe inspiration to the next level this winter, showing consumers just how tasty and versatile oats can be, at breakfast and beyond. This is why we launched an on-pack offer giving shoppers a free Oatspiration 365 e-book to download, alongside the chance to win a year’s supply of ingredients to bring these recipes to life. * With every purchase of a promotional pack January 2021, shoppers receive a barcode to download the free e-book which provides 365 days’ worth of oat-related recipes.

What merchandising advice do you have for wholesalers?

With consumers investing more time to create breakfasts from scratch, we’d recommend wholesalers clearly signpost and actively communicate a good selection of products to help retailers tap into this trend. It’s also wise to include a few quicker breakfast options so retailers can cater for those shoppers looking for something quick and easy when they wake up at home and make their daily commute to their home office, and prepare for people slowly moving back to commuting to the office.

To see breakfast sales increase, wholesalers are urged to take a few further steps in-depot:

• Refine your fixture layout: Many customers struggle to find porridge products on the breakfast shelves as the fixture is dominated by other cereal products. Sachet products should have 12% space on cereal fixture, while ensure Pots have 7% space in order to see sales grow

• Price-marked packs: Value for money is a key purchasing consideration for many shoppers. By stocking price-marked packs, making them visible to retailers – will help them show their shoppers that they are getting the best value while also providing a higher ROS to retailers than non-price-marked packs

How do you work with wholesalers to improve sales?

PepsiCo work with wholesalers to ensure they offer a consolidated range of best sellers within the hot cereals segment. As part of this, it’s important that wholesalers stock the right segments and product formats that meets the needs of their customers and shoppers more broadly.

As the category is currently fairly evenly split between take-home and on-the-go “missions”9, wholesalers should ensure they stock products that suit each opportunity. It’s also important to offer Products such as Quaker traditional oats and sachets to cater for at-home consumption, while porridge products that can be easily enjoyed on the move, such as our Quaker pots and Quaker Porridge To Go, offer a convenient, on-the-go breakfast for shoppers.

Do you have any NPD planned?

We have lots planned for the new year and beyond, including a great price-marked pack addition to our Porridge To Go range, perfect for the impulse channel – watch this space for further details in the next few months.

* UK, 18+ only. Main Promotional Period 14/09/20 – 22/11/20. Purchase of a promotional pack of Quaker Oat So Simple Sachets, Traditional Oats or Pots pack necessary. NI NPN via post. Internet access required. To enter weekly prize draw: visit http://quaker.co.uk/recipebook enter your barcode from promotional pack, name and email. Max 1 entry per email address per day, each with a separate purchase. Prizes: 40 x 1 year’s supply of breakfast toppings valued at £160 to be won. Prizes issued in form of 1 x £40 supermarket gift card per quarter (4 quarters in total). Wrap Up Prize Draw: Any entries received between 23/11/20 – 31/01/21 will be entered into a wrap up prize draw to win 1 x 1 year’s supply of breakfast toppings valued at £160. All entrants will also be invited to download a free Quaker ‘Oatspiration’ Recipe e-book. Max 1 e-book download per email address. E-book download available until 31/01/21. Visit http://quaker.co.uk/recipebook for full T&Cs, prize details and NI NPN. Promoter: Walkers Snacks Limited, 450 South Oak Way, Green Park, Reading, RG2 6UW.

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