Why is this research important for Alberta ag?
The rising rate of milk allergies and lactose intolerance is responsible for the increasing demand for plant-based milk alternatives. This trend is gaining a greater momentum by consumers looking for plant-based healthy options that include protein and fibre. The Canadian oat industry is uniquely positioned to fulfill this promising opportunity.
Canada is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of oats, with approximately 90% of them grown in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The rise in popularity of oat milk could translate to a boom in oat production in Alberta and presents an opportunity to process more Alberta’s grain in the province.
Unlike other potential plant based sources, oats are a good source of both protein and soluble fibre. This research will take advantage of high quality Canadian oat varieties to produce new oat milk products with increased protein and ß-glucan contents. The second goal is to further develop the oat milk into a functional beverage for management of type 2 diabetes.
What benefits can producers expect from this research?
Canada is the second largest producer of oats in the world (4.5M metric tonnes). However, the majority of Canadian oats are used for animal feed, and less than 10% is used for food. This research will lay the foundation to increase demand for Canadian oats as a high value crops in the international market, significantly increasing revenue return for oat growers.
Plant protein sources also have a lower impact on the climate and require less land to producer. This opportunity in the global plant protein market has the potential to significantly increase jobs and revenue in Canada over the next 10 years.
How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?
Results will be shared with a variety of end-users through many means including meetings, newsletters, and will also serve as a foundation for industry recommendations.