AG Barr buys majority stake in oat milk and porridge seller MOMA Foods as popularity of plant-based drinks soar

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  • AG Barr said it intends to take full control of Moma Foods within three years
  • MoMA was founded in 2006 by Tom Mercera under a railway arch in Deptford
  • MoMA’s customers include major supermarket chains such as Tesco and Waitrose.

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Irn-Bru maker AG Barr has forayed into plant-based beverages by buying a 60 percent stake in one of Britain’s largest oat milk producers.

The Scottish soft drink firm has now become the majority owner of MoMA Foods, a south London-based conglomerate that also sells oatmeal, Bircher Muesli and low-sugar granola meals.

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It said it intends to complete the transaction at the end of January next year, before finally taking full ownership of the company, the country’s third-largest oat milk business, within three years.

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AG Barr has now become the majority owner of MoMA Foods, a south London-based conglomerate that sells oat milk, makes oatmeal, Bircher Muesli and low sugar granola food.

Founded in 2006 under a railway arch in Deptford by former management consultant Tom Mercer, MOMA has expanded to coincide with the growing popularity of alternative milks such as soy, almond and oat milks among the UK population.

The group supplies some of the UK’s largest supermarket chains such as Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, as well as budget airline EasyJet, high street store chain Selfridges and pub operator JD Weatherspoon.

Tom Mercer said, “I believe that together we can harness the passion that is integral to MoMA and grow into a great brand.”

‘We are 100 percent focused on making oats into the most delicious food and beverage products, and I look forward to the next step in our journey.’

A survey published by research firm Mintel in September estimated that a third of Britons consumed plant-based milk, compared to 25 per cent last year, with Millennials and Generation Z increasing significantly.

Cow’s milk still retains by far the largest market share, yet the pandemic and the growing popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets caused sales of oat milk to nearly double to £146 million last year, and total plant-based milk sales. Sales soared to £394 million.

The oat boom: the pandemic and the growing popularity of a plant-based diet led oat milk sales to nearly double to £146million last year, and total plant-based milk sales to £394million

The oat boom: the pandemic and the growing popularity of a plant-based diet led oat milk sales to nearly double to £146million last year, and total plant-based milk sales to £394million

Swedish food company Oatly benefited from most of the growth, which lasted nearly a decade longer than MoMA and received financial backing from Blackstone Group and former Starbucks boss Howard Schultz.

It was listed on the Nasdaq stock market earlier this year and is using some of the cash from the listing to build new production facilities, including one in Peterborough, due to begin operations in 2023.

AG Bar’s boss Roger White said he is “delighted that AG Barr is foraying into healthy oat-based products with such a great brand and an experienced team led by Tom.”

‘Plant-based milks are a rapidly growing category, in particular, and MOMA’s oat milk is a premium quality product with huge potential. This exciting investment is a positive sign of AG Barr’s growth ambitions.’

A week ago, Rubicon and teaser maker upgraded their full-year revenue and profit forecasts to £264million and £41million respectively, after a bumper period of business in late summer and autumn.

It marked a significant recovery from the early stages of the pandemic, when the closure of hospitality venues severely affected sales of its carbonated soft drinks and its water brands such as Stills and Strathmore.

Shares of AG Barr rose 1.3 percent to 526.6p this afternoon.

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