There has been a positive for the oat industry during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that’s higher sales of many oat related food products and strong oat mill use. Jeffrey L. Harmening, chairman and chief executive officer of General Mills indicated recently, “What we're seeing is the consumption for food at home, particularly in our meals categories. And whether that meal is breakfast like cereal, whether it's lunch and dinner, we're seeing the largest growth in our meals categories."

“We're seeing improved growth across all of our categories, with the exception of our bars category,” said Mr. Harmening. “And we're seeing the same thing in Europe that we're seeing in the US on bars. But mostly that's because bars are eaten, to a large degree, on the go.”

PepsiCo’s finance chief Hugh Johnston painted a similar picture, noting homebound Americans were snacking on Tostitos tortilla chips more frequently, while more time for breakfast supported sales of Quaker Oats cereals.

Kellogg’s in their quarterly report released April 30 indicated market acceleration in cereal consumption growth in March, plus 43% year-on-year (see right). The report indicated “Importantly, cereal is one of the food categories whose consumption has remained at very elevated levels, even after the couple of weeks of consumer stock-ups.”

Adding to the positive for the North American oat industry as been strong mill use in Canada. Statistics Canada reported last week mill use year to-date (Aug-Mar) up 23%. Mill use is likely to remain strong when the Apr-Jul numbers are reported in late August. Canadian oat product exports remain on record pace, mainly to the US.