For 150 years, Harraways have been supplying Kiwis with homegrown oats. Established in Dunedin in 1867 by immigrant Henry Harraway, oats were a popular choice in Otago, home to Scottish settlers.
Beautiful growing conditions for oats in the region kicked off a perfect marriage for the Harraways family, forging strong relationships with farmers and investing strongly in the original oat mill in Green Island, Dunedin.
Today, Harraways operates on the same site, still supplying oats for Kiwis to enjoy. While some things have remained the same, Head of Marketing and New Product Development, Peter Cox, explains how some things have changed.
“There's a lot happening around the wholefood movement, health and wellbeing. So it made a lot of sense for the company to specialize and move in that direction and certainly over that first decade of the 2000's, the throughput through the company, in oats terms probably went up around sevenfold over that time,” Peter said.
Celebrating 150 years
Celebrating 150 years of operation in 2017 was an opportunity to start to modernise the brand while retaining the vintage pieces iconic to the brand.
“We had a real point of difference there with a property of yellow. We've got a great story around the mill. And what we needed to do was try and tell that story authentically and in a unique way. So what we've done really is we've grabbed all of these things from the archives that were there in 2017 and we've just packaged them up in a contemporary way that brings the story more cohesively to life,” Peter said.
“We've come up with this sort of illustrative version, romantic version, if you like, of the mill. So that's intrinsic to the logo now. And we've done a much stronger job around that provenance story, you know, where does it all come from, which is Dunedin New Zealand and when it was all established in 1867.”
New products have also been launched in recent years, proving oats are more than just a breakfast food.
“We've launched a range of functional health products, Oat-activ® are a good example where we've fortified oats and we've done a job, what we believe is a world first where we've meshed plant sterols alongside the beta-glucans in oats to create a double action to help combat high low density cholesterol,” Peter said.
“Then secondly, getting and diversifying our oats a little bit beyond the breakfast table into areas like snacks. This was a real personal pride moment where we won an Outstanding Food Producers award for this product, which has been available through select New Worlds and Liquor Lands as well.”
Harraways have also repackaged their single serve convenience oats, introducing a space saving box and compostable sachets.
Despite the product diversification, there is a lot that can be done with the original oat - a versatile, nutritious food that can be incorporated into many different recipes.
Peter explains, “I guess a lot of what we've done on social media has been about packaging up our range of oats in ways that can be consumed, whether it be, you know, obviously breakfast time is obvious, but, you know, a great plate of porridge is obviously clear. But things like muesli, you can make some great mueslis and be very creative in the way you make those. Smoothies, oat pancakes. You can also do some great waffles as well.”
Who can forget the iconic Anzac cookies, which are all about the oats. But it doesn’t end there, oats are a great ingredient for cooking with.
“It's amazing what you can do in a dinner sense. You know, oats mixed in to make up meatballs. You can create lasagnas with oats, risottos with steel cut oats instead of using arborio rice you use steel cut oats as your rice base. So there's a number of really cool dinner recipes that we come up with too,” Peter said.
The opportunities are endless, and so the story continues for one of New Zealand’s most iconic food brands.
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