Oatgurt is the brainchild of Scandinavian-born food entrepreneurs Mika Manninen and Helena Lumme, who launched oat-based beverage Simpli Oat Shake in the US in 2011 but had to withdraw it after the factory producing it in Europe was sold, and they were unable to raise the cash to start production in the US.
Fast forward seven years, when oat-based beverages such as Oatly are making waves in the US and the plant-based dairy alternatives category is more established, and the timing seemed right to take another stab at the market, this time with a slightly thicker, more functional product, Lumme told FoodNavigator-USA.
Oatly’s launch has definitely helped us
“In 2011 no one here really knew about oat-based, but things are very different now,” added Lumme, who has secured backing from angel investors to date.
“Oatly’s launch has definitely helped us as everyone is talking about oats and to have an oat yogurt is not seen as weird at all.
“We also spent a long time researching a production process to make more natural oatmilk products without using enzymes to break down the oats and without filtering out the fiber, which is the most beneficial part. We wanted to keep the whole grains intact and create a smooth texture.”
She added: “We also have a recipe for a spoonable product, which is in the pipeline, but we’re starting with a drinkable product as this is a real growth opportunity as people look for more portable healthy snacks with gut health benefits. It’s also very satisfying as we know oat beta glucan helps keep hunger on hold.”
A cleaner label
Hälsa Oatgurt (MSRP $2.99) contains fermented whole grain oats (the soluble fiber in which is claimed to have prebiotic effects), fruit juice, pea protein, and live bifidus cultures (the specific strains are not listed on pack).
Each 8oz bottle contains 5g protein, 2g fiber, 9-12g sugar (from the fruit juice), 120-140 calories, and no added sugar, stabilizers, gums or emulsifiers, said Lumme, making for an unusually clean label.
While the brand is manufactured in New York, Hälsa sources is organic oats from Scandinavia, and taps into the heritage of its founders by using the imagery of the Scandinavian archipelago on its website and marketing materials, said Lumme, who says instore demos have also been key to encouraging trial.
“People love the fact it doesn’t have that aftertaste that a lot of plant-based yogurts or milks can have."