Fiber has been a go-to ingredient in many functional beverage applications over the past few years, given its known digestive benefits. And few foods have been a better source of fiber for generations than oatmeal. So why not bottle those fiber-rich oats in drinkable form? That’s the concept behind Oatworks, an oat-and-fruit smoothie drink made with 100 percent fruit juice and containing the benefits of two bowls of oatmeal—without the lumps. The New York-based brand launched last year at the city’s Summer Fancy Food Show and in January it made its West Coast debut at San Francisco’s Winter Fancy Food Show. That’s where Beverage World caught up with founder David Peters, who offered a bit of insight on Oatworks and the market for oat-rich beverages. —Jeff Cioletti
What was the thinking behind Oatworks?
We wanted to take two very popular ingredients, fruits and oats and blend them together but in a very smooth format so that our customers could enjoy them on the go or as a healthy snack throughout the course of the day.
What are those health benefits, specifically?
The product gives the equivalent of two bowls of oatmeal and that means you’re delivering the soluble fiber content of two bowls of oatmeal. Now the soluble fiber or the beta-glucan from the oats is the part of the oats that’s really responsible for a lot of its health properties. That’s the part that’s responsible for lowering your cholesterol, for giving you that feeling of satiety and also for giving you that sustained energy release. So unlike a lot of beverages that contain a lot of sugar and give you an instant rush and then a big drop-off in energy, Oatworks is going to keep you powered up for several hours afterwards and give you that sustained energy release.
How would you describe your target consumer?
Anybody who takes an interest in eating healthy and looking after themselves. Our consumers are very busy people—they’re active people—so although they’re interested in looking after themselves, they don’t always have the time to eat as healthfully as they’d like to. Oatworks allows them to carry on being active and enjoying their lives, but also eating and drinking healthfully.
What’s your company’s guiding philosophy?
We wanted to keep the company and its products as simple and natural as possible. So we don’t use any artificial ingredients, our products are gluten-free, and non-GMO— they’re also dairy-free so they’re suitable for vegans. We want to be as authentic as possible, so everything we do is authentic.
What kind of feedback or reactions have you gotten from consumers?
I think the thing that really surprises people is how great the product tastes and also the fact that it’s completely smooth. A lot of people assume that an oat-based beverage is going to be lumpy and then they try Oatworks and they’re like, ‘Wow, this is totally smooth and really delicious.’
If you weren’t in the beverage business, what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d probably be a soccer player or [some kind of] athlete. I’m a runner and I’d love to run professionally one day. That was always my dream.