University research shows ancient island grain creates a uniquely flavoured Orkney Oatcake

By Press Office

University research has shown that an ancient grain has grown in the Northern Isles and the Outer Hebrides can be used to create a Scottish oatcake which is healthy, high in fibre, and has a unique flavour.

Bere, a crop which is grown in Orkney, Shetland and areas of the Outer Hebrides, has been used to create a uniquely tasting Stockan's Oatcake which offers a useful range of micronutrients.

Beremeal is utilised in the Orkney Islands but is not significantly used throughout the rest of the UK.  Stockan's, a long-established oatcake producer based in Stromness, has been baking oatcakes for over a hundred years. The company, believing that Beremeal would offer significant nutritional benefits, was keen to develop a new and exclusive Scottish product that would be unique to Orkney. The research was needed to confirm the nutritional content of the flour and the acceptability of a new oatcake made using the special island ingredient.

Research conducted by Queen Margaret University's (QMU) Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation has shown that the oatcakes made with Beremeal have a high fibre content. Specifically, the Beremeal flour used in the recipe offers high levels of vitamin B1, folate, iron, biotin, phosphorous, magnesium and iodine.

Dr Laura Wyness, from Queen Margaret University, explained: "Folate, iron, iodine and magnesium are often found to be at low levels amongst some population groups, so anything which can boost the intake of these micronutrients amongst the UK population is a positive step."

Queen Margaret University reviewed the nutritional content of Beremeal flour and conducted consumer taste panels using Stockan's Orkney Beremeal Oatcakes. The taste panel results were favourable in terms of the sensory attributes of the new oatcake, especially for taste and aftertaste.

Moira Cairns, Business Development Manager from Stockans, said: "Our company is well known for our Orkney Heritage and we were delighted to work with Queen Margaret University to develop a new oatcake.  We have sourced our Beremeal, made from a traditional Orkney grain, from Barony Mill, which is awaiting confirmation of  ‘Orkney Beremeal’  gaining Protected Food Name status.  We are delighted with the unique taste, flavour and nutritional benefits of our Stockan's Orkney Beremeal Oatcake.  With much interest already shown from our customers throughout the UK, we are looking forward to its launch at Scotland's Speciality Food Show in Glasgow 24-26th January 2016."

Dr Wyness explained: "During the focus groups it was clear that participants were very positive about choosing to buy and eat Beremeal oatcakes.  The nutritional benefits of Beremeal, and the fact that it's a Scottish ingredient, were clear positive factors amongst the consumer panel members. Some consumer panellists mentioned the 'intriguing delicate flavour' of the Beremeal oatcakes and others described the oatcake as 'very moreish' with a 'good texture balance of grainy and smooth'."

As part of the research trials, Stockan's also received consumer feedback on the company's oatcake packaging which they have used to finalise their new attractive rustic design.

Dr Wyness concluded: "The unique nature of Beremeal gives Stockan's Beremeal oatcakes a remarkable yet subtle taste and fine texture, which was generally liked by the consumer taste panel. With high fibre and a number of useful micronutrients, we are sure that Stockan's Beremeal Oatcakes will be a hit with consumers who are looking for a healthy and tasty snack."

This project was supported by an innovation voucher from the Scottish Funding Council through Interface*.

Notes to Editor

** Interface helps businesses with creating and developing new products, services and processes by connecting them to the right academic expertise within Scotland's universities and colleges.

* Orkney Beremeal grain is currently in application for Protected Food Name (PFN) status.

* Focus groups were conducted at QMU with three different age groups, although no clear differences were apparent between the general views of the groups.

Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

Queen Margaret University has established academic expertise in the translation and application of science to support commercially successful research and development within industry.

Through our practical innovation support and creative business solutions can help businesses with:

  *   New and innovative product development and analysis;

  *   Development of leading edge functional, health enhancing products and ingredients;

  *   Reformulation of existing products - for example healthier alternatives to fat, salt and sugar;

  *   Innovative sources of raw materials to produce novel ingredients and ensure sustainability;

  *   Ingredients to improve product processing and preservation;

  *   Nutritional analysis, shelf life testing, consumer focus groups and taste panels.

Supported by specialist academic staff the Centre's superb facilities include

  *   Dedicated microbiology laboratory;

  *   Fully-equipped sensory suite;

  *   Dedicated chemistry laboratory;

  *   Technology/white room for industry to test new technology;

  *   Development kitchen.

These facilities combined with our academic knowledge and expertise in food, nutrition and biological sciences offer companies in the food and drink industry an unrivalled opportunity to innovate and develop new products which are underpinned by our scientific research.

Information about Stockans

Based in the harbour town of Stromness, we've been baking in the Orkney Islands for over 100 years. One of the main employers in the area, Stockan's has a loyal and skilled workforce, some of whom have been with us for over 40 years. We're proud of our Orkney heritage, and the Islands are central to our operations, with the oatcakes baked and shipped from the islands to customers all over the world.

Our oatcakes are made using the finest ingredients, a combination that ensures a superior tasting product, with great texture and flavour.

Traditional Scottish fare, oatcakes continue to be popular through their versatility, and as an alternative to bread and crackers. Increasingly our products are gaining popularity within the health food sector, with consumers recognising oatcakes as a product low on the Glycaemic Index. Our oatcakes are also high in fibre, full of the goodness of oats - with no hydrogenated fats.

As well as supplying all the major multiples in Scotland, we also provide oatcakes for a whole variety of retailers including farm shops, delis and the catering industry. Visit the Stockan's website for more information.

For further media information please contact Jonathan Perkins, Press and PR Officer, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, tel: 0131 474 0000, Email:

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