Campbell’s Canada’s launch of a new canned meal product containing naked oats is pure vindication for a farmer from Manitoba’s Interlake who invested years promoting the variety as an important new crop. The Canadian food company recently announced the launch of Nourish, a 425-gram meal-in-a-can product which, in addition to two servings of vegetables and at least 18 g of protein, will also contain naked oats, a hulless and hairless oat variety that cooks and tastes like rice, but has a wider nutritional profile.
At its root is the oat variety AC Gehl, which was developed after 15 years of research and breeding by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists. These are the same oats that Arborg-area farmer and food product entrepreneur Scott Sigvaldason, president of Smart and Natural Foods Ltd., has been marketing as the “Rice of the Prairies.” The oats are now being grown for Campbell’s under exclusive contracts with Manitoba farmers.
Sigvaldason said Campbell’s decision to use naked oats in its new product gives credence to what he’s said for years — here is a wholesome new food crop that can create new markets for Canadian farmers. “It’s a fantastic good-news story that a company as large as Campbell’s has come forward and is willing to put its name out there as somebody who recognizes how good a grain it is,” he says. “It’s not just some crazy farmer out in the frozen Interlake talking about this now,” he said.
Nourish will not be sold at retail, at least not for now. Instead 100,000 cans are initially being donated to Food Banks Canada, which now feeds close to a million Canadians every month. The company will be looking for ways to make the product available at key retailers with sales helping fund future donations, according to the company.