Remember the old aphorism about eating oatmeal because it "sticks to your ribs?" Quaker Oats now plans to find out whether that is at least metaphorically true — and, if so, whether there might be a new "satiety" benefit to eating its oatmeal products that could help promote the brand.
That's just one of the objectives of the new Quaker Oats Center of Excellence, a research nexus announced this week by the PepsiCo brand. The company is streamlining and accelerating research around other potential health and nutrition benefits of oats besides it well-documented, government-approved claim to help lower cholesterol levels and thus mitigate heart disease.
Also, Nestle announced that it has centralized its clinical-research efforts at a new unit in its headquarters city of Lausanne, Switzerland, with the aim of rationalizing the planning and management of clinical trials and fundamental research projects so that it's better positioned to gain health claims by the European Food Safety Authority. The new Nestle unit also is expected to help it expand its global reach and better adapt products to gloabl needs, a Nestle executive told NutraIngredients.com.
Both efforts are significant as mainstream CPG giants seek much bigger gains in the world of better-for-you products, just as they for so long have dominated markets for mainstream foods and beverages.
"Oats have been perhaps taken for granted," Marianne O'Shea, director of the new Quaker Oats center at headquarters in Chicago, told brandchannel. The heart-health claim — which Quaker Oats has used for years to promote oatmeal consumption, and General Mills has touted to promote Cheerios — "is only the tip of the iceberg."
More concentrated research, she said, could help find other heart-related benefits for oats besides cutting cholesterol levels. Satiety -- an important benefit as companies and policymakers battle obesity — "is also one we're really going to dig into," O'Shea said. Oatmeal sticking to your ribs "is something you hear from Mom when you were a kid, and it's been a consumer belief for a very long time, but no one has even demonstrated scientifically if it's true or not."
The Center also will probe potential benefits of oats including weight management, energy and gut health, she said.
Sales of Quaker oatmeal have been down while QSR chains have been adding oatmeal to their menus, and while sales of other oat-based products by Quaker have been rising. So it can't hurt for Quaker to come up with still more good reasons for you to eat that morning bowl of Quaker Oats.