Southland is one of the largest grain producing regions in New Zealand and has the highest tonnage per hector of grains in the country.
Oats have historically been one of the main crops grown in Southland, providing food for both animals and human consumption. The volume of oats grown in the Southland region has declined over the years as a result of economic factors that have made other farming options more attractive to farmers and investors.
Despite this decline Venture Southland has identified that Southland's climate, soils and regular rainfall make the region the perfect location for growing oats. To further promote this identified natural advantage in oat production, Venture Southland has worked to find the right value add opportunities that would ensure that oats can be a viable land-use option for farmers.
There are a number of high value export opportunities emerging from the utilisation of oat protein and specialist processing particularly oat health beverages, high value convenience food opportunities and nutraceuticals. Given Southern New Zealand’s natural advantage, from a growing perspective as well as potential land-use benefits, the proposed oat initiative is aimed at developing high value exports and import substitution opportunities for Southland and New Zealand.
From examining the potential uses of oats Venture Southland has developed a project based on Southland oats as a high value health and wellness product. Health and Wellness products are among the fastest growing segments of the food and beverage market and are generally defined as those products that are naturally healthy, fortified in order to address and prevent certain conditions, are organic and non-allergenic. As Individuals become more and more aware of their nutrition and health there is a growing demand for health and wellness products of which oats can contribute to.
With the ability to produce oats as a raw material for health and wellness products, Southland can claim a place in this growing market. Oats is a crop that can be grown more successfully in Southland than other regions in New Zealand. The cooler climate allows the production of high quality grain from an area of suitable land that totals almost 200,000 hectares. The commitment of land to this option would allow Southland to diversify its economy, use the land resource more efficiently, as well as tap into this fast growing market segment.
Venture Southland is currently working with leading industry parties to establish a new oat-based industry for the region. In coordinating the development of the project, Venture Southland is able to encourage potential investment opportunities that will be significant to growing and diversifying the Southland economy.