White’s Oats invests in digital technology

Crumlin farmer Mark Wilson, left, with Gary Hillman, agronomist at White's Oats
Crumlin farmer Mark Wilson, left, with Gary Hillman, agronomist at White's Oats

White’s Oats, Northern Ireland’s oat miller and cereal producer, is harnessing the latest digital technology in its pursuit of the very best varieties of oats for its award winning breakfast cereals.

The company, based at Tandragee in County Armagh, has installed a digital time-lapse camera in an oat field of one of its principal growers, Mark Wilson of Crumlin.

The tiny camera is monitoring the full growing cycle of the oats and providing additional data for the company’s ongoing research into new crop varieties for its range of porridges and granolas and also to improve the return for its network of local growers.

“Our focus is on purchasing the best quality oats for our milling operation,” Raymond Hillman, agronomist and head of the growing group at White’s Oats, informs. “We look at the quality of the kernel content, the bushel weight and hullability. Quality is vitally important as White’s has achieved British Retail Consortium accreditation which focuses on quality at all levels of the business and is an essential requirement for companies wishing to sell to multiple retailers in Britain and abroad.

“The focus on delivering the highest standards from ‘farm to fork’ is crucially important. The ingredients in White’s products are fully traceable and reassert its provenance values,” he says.

“Data from the camera will be used to inform our decisions on the varieties of oats we use across our wide range of products and provide additional research into oat quality at farm level,” he adds.

“Consumers probably don’t appreciate the amount of research undertaken by White’s and its growers in the growing and milling of oats. We have access to the latest research from the Home Grown Cereals Authority and University College of Wales at Aberystwyth University, a centre of expertise in cereals, and we are passionate about working with our growers to help them to increase their yields,” he says.

“This involves working together in assessing the characteristics of new varieties and other areas such as nutrition, weed control, soil management, environmental issues, growing and drying techniques and how best to store the harvest.”

A market leading brand within the Northern Ireland retail sector, White’s recently announced a £2 million investment in its processing capabilities, marketing and people.

It has an award winning track record in producing great tasting porridge oats and supplies most of the leading UK and Irish retailers as well as exports into China, Hong Kong, Middle East, US and many European markets.