When I reflect on it, the Aussie Oats story really started a long, long time ago.
I’m a farmer’s daughter, I come off the land around the Central Queensland Agricultural community of Springsure. Born and bred around crops such as wheat, sorghum, oats, sunflowers and a few other varieties of grain, Dad also had cattle and if I was honest, I loved working with cattle and horses more than the farming and agriculture, but I loved to drive the big tractors as well, mostly because they were air conditioned and boy it was HOT!!
However, I was a daughter, and being that we were only on a small block and there was a son, the succession plan for the girls was to go do something else off farm. My something else was being a primary school teacher. However, everything I have done since, has led me back to the land and into business. I ran a successful business selling gluten free flour formulas that initially met the needs of my family who all had food intolerances.
So in 2007, when I discovered that they were growing uncontaminated oats in the USA and they were certified as gluten free, it’s no wonder my ears pricked up.
From the time the first pallet landed on the wharf in Brisbane I had a burning desire to start growing and supplying Australia with gluten free oats. But, unfortunately in our game, the chicken really does come before the egg so to speak. We needed to show farmers that we had a market for these oats. This of course took time, which we had plenty of.
In 2016, after many attempts at labelling our oats, we rebranded the oats we were importing, from farmers in the US, to Gloriously Free Oats – “The Oats you can Trust”. Predominately our target market is the growing number of customers who suffer from gluten intolerance.
Around the same time, a group of farmers in Western Australia reached out to us with the proposal of being able to grow us oats that was uncontaminated and they were interested in us purchasing them to supply in our brand, as we dominated the market. We were beyond excited, but there was a bit of a way to go yet. See they had mastered the ability to grow and produce the oats without contamination from the gluten grains, wheat, rye or barley, but we also needed access to a steaming and rolling mill in order to process and stabilise the oats. This has taken some time for them to do as they have had to bootstrap this project, like us. Our goal was to continue to grow our presence in the market to build a demand, while these farmers took on the mammoth taste of building their dedicated oat processing mill.
By the end of 2019, Kylie met the lead farmer in an Irish bar south of Perth after a trip back from Africa. We made plans and projections to when we could all look at introducing Australia to these oats, we shook hands and said we will see you back here in March 2020.
We know what happened next… we still haven’t done this step, but we certainly plan to.
By January 2021, our supply chain in the USA buckled under the pressure of Covid as the ports were heavily congested with cargo delayed for over 3 months. We realised that we were potentially going to run out of oats, within weeks, for our Australian supply chain, if we did not get stock through a different route from the US. As Garry dealt with this new challenge, Kylie reached out to the farmers in WA and said, well, this is it. We need these oats, and we need them now!
Our farmers were very close to finalising the mill, so we all took a deep breath and started the first run and the compliance process. By May 2021 we had a small supply to take to the Naturally Good Show in Sydney, which turned out to be the one and only trade show we could attend this year. The audience went wild, lol! To say it was very well received was an understatement, so we finalised packaging and were ready for release in July. The Aussie GF Oats are taking some time to reach the shelves due to many states being in lockdown, but we are excited for the interest and support shown for this new product.
It feels really like an out of body experience, we have done it!
After 12 years, we have the first Aussie GF Oats touching the shelves of stores all over Australia and reaching the tummies of gluten friendly customers all over the country. The truth is, when one milestone is reached, another dozen reveal themselves. That is code for ‘watch this space’, we have just released the Aussie Oats in bulk, and we are excited to release a full range of products over the next few months featuring the new hero in our range – Aussie GF Oats.