Oat mill rolls into niche mar­kets

The West Australian - - WEST BUSINESS - Jenne Bram­mer

WA oat pro­ces­sor Avena Mills plans to carve out niche do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets for or­ganic and “con­tam­i­na­tion-free” oats, by tak­ing its value-adding a step fur­ther to pro­vide a shelf-ready prod­uct.

In the process, the small Wan­der­ing-based com­pany could de­liver an ex­tra $2 mil­lion a year to the WA grains sec­tor, po­ten­tially ex­pand its num­ber of sup­pli­ers, and of­fer grow­ers a premium of $20 to $120 a tonne, while cre­at­ing up to five re­gional jobs when fully oper­a­tional in 2020.

Avena Mills is jointly owned by feed-milling group Thomp­son and Red­wood, and the Rin­toul and Bat­t­ley fam­i­lies who both farm near Wan­der­ing/Wil­liams. Avena pro­cesses oats by clean­ing, grad­ing-to-size and re­mov­ing husks to sup­ply a ker­nel for stock feed.

Avena Mills com­pany sec­re­tary Stephen La­mond said for the hu­man-con­sump­tion mar­ket, it un­der­took fur­ther re­fine­ment to KDHO (de-hulled, kiln-dried hulled oats), which was sold on to pro­ces­sors ready for rolling be­fore hit­ting the re­tail shelf.

But Avena will now take its value-adding a step fur­ther by build­ing its own rolling and dry­ing line to cre­ate a shelf-ready rolled or in­stant-type oat prod­uct.

The abil­ity to value-add fur­ther to cre­ate a re­tail prod­uct was made pos­si­ble af­ter the com­pany was awarded an $178,500 grant.

The grant will go to­wards adding a rolling/flak­ing and pack­ag­ing line to Avena’s ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

“Us­ing the ECG, we can add our own rolling and dry­ing line to cre­ate a re­tail shelf-ready rolled or in­stant-type oat prod­uct,” Mr La­mond said.

“This can be branded and sold do­mes­ti­cally and in key po­ten­tial ex­port mar­kets.”

Mr La­mond said Avena would be the first WA com­pany to of­fer the con­tam­i­nant-free fin­ished prod­uct. He said be­cause Wan­der­ing was based in heart of the WA “sheep belt”, Avena was ide­ally sit­u­ated to source oats from prop­er­ties that pro­duced no other ce­re­als for pro­cess­ing in its oat-spe­cific mill.

“We can mar­ket th­ese oats as be­ing free of any gluten con­tam­i­nants,” Mr La­mond said.

Mr La­mond said the group would pro­duce about 100 tonnes of the fin­ished shelf-ready prod­uct in its first year, but that would grow with time.

Pic­ture: Bob Gar­nant

Avena Mills di­rec­tor and Wil­liams farmer Kim Rin­toul at the plant which pro­duces premium oats.

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