AG Barr has announced it has taken a 60 percent stake in UK brand MOMA Foods. It marks the first step into plant-based foods for the Irn Bru maker. Full acquisition of the alt-milk and porridge brand is expected within three years.
MOMA Foods started as a breakfast market stall in East London. Founded in 2006, it has grown into a recognised player in the plant-based sector. Today the UK’s third-largest oat milk brand, further growth is on the cards now that it is part of the AG Barr portfolio. MOMA is stocked in major UK supermarkets, high street stores and used in the hospitality trade.
Pop goes the oat brand
Most famous for its Irn Bru soft drink, AG Barr also owns Tizer, Snapple, and Rubicon, amongst others. Popular in the UK and worldwide, the drinks giant has diversified in a totally new direction. Moving into the plant-based sector represents the scope of AG Barr’s future plans. “I’m delighted that AG Barr is venturing into healthy oat-based products with such a great brand and an experienced team, led by Tom,” said Roger White, CEO of AG barr. “Plant-based milk is a fast-growing category, in particular, and MOMA’s oat milk is a premium quality product with huge potential. This exciting investment is a positive indication of AG Barr’s growth ambitions.”
Tom Mercer, founder and CEO of MOMA Foods, will be staying on board. “I’m hugely excited to embark on the next phase of MOMA’s growth with A.G. Barr,” he said. “I believe that together we can harness the passion that is integral to MOMA and grow into a significantly bigger brand. We’re 100% focused on crafting oats into the tastiest food and drink products we can, and I’m looking forward to the next leg of our journey.”
Completion of the initial purchase is expected to conclude in January 2022. The remaining 40 percent stake will be acquired by AG Barr by 2025.
UK acceptance of plant milk
It was reported earlier this year that one in three UK residents now drinks plant milk. Spending £100 million more on products than the previous year, plant milk is a £400 million UK industry. Oat variations proved the most popular, overtaking almond milk as the preferred choice.
The evolution of oat milk
Oat milk is becoming the dominant choice on the alt-milk shelf. What started with just a few brands has grown into a huge sector, with companies vying to stand out. While some have taken extreme measures, a la Oatly and their wink-wink marketing tactics, others have chosen new flavours and blends. Recently Florida-based Banana Wave, which makes banana-flavoured oat milk drinks, was acquired by Canadian investment group Eat Beyond, a strong indicator of the sector’s business fundamentals.
In addition to brand buy-outs, McDonald’s has added oat milk to its McCafé menu in Australia. This represents possible mainstream adoption by other QSR outlets. Various brands of vegan chocolate are also being brought to market. Moving away from coconut as a base, many are debuting oat milk formulations. Lindt and Hershey’s are among the latest converts.