Put down the spoon; oatmeal available in a glass near you

Hot or cold smoothie Saskatoon man worked with the development centre for more than a year to perfect the recipe before taking it to market

“Oatmeal” and “smoothie” are two words that don’t usually go together unless it’s in a breakfast list.

George Barreras decided otherwise.

Almost four years ago, Barreras moved from Colombia to Canada, where he assumed people were familiar with oatmeal drinks.

“To my surprise, people didn’t even have that idea that oat can be a drink,” he said.

Two years later, Barreras went to the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre in Saskatoon with the hopes of creating an oatmeal smoothie called Oatdeal. He re-ceived funding from the Saskatchewan Agri-Value Initiative to develop the prototype for his smoothie.

“You can’t imagine the number of times you have to test and test and test until you finally get the product you really want,” he said.

Barreras said it took a year and a half to get the exact formula he wanted for his product.

Time was another challenge. A full-time job at the waste-water treatment plant in Saskatoon made it difficult for Barreras to devote time to his smoothie.

“Someone would want to meet on a Wednesday, and I’d have to say, ‘I can’t. I’m working.’ ”

Barreras said his company is the first in Canada to make oat-based smoothies.

Oatdeal comes in three flavours: vanilla, chocolate, and cinnamon, which has been the most popular since Barreras started selling his smoothies a month ago.

The smoothies can be enjoyed hot or cold, mixed in a cup or blended. Barreras said people enjoy it because of how new it is.

“The only winter drinks we have (in Canada) are coffee, tea and hot chocolate. I’m bringing up a completely different winter drink.”

Barreras produces his smoothie at the Food Centre because he doesn’t yet have a plant of his own.

He sells them at the Regina Farmer’s Market, the SaskMade Marketplace in Saskatoon and on his web-site. They will also soon be available at Co-op stores, he added.

Two crates have been sold at SaskMade Marketplace since sales began.

“My teenage daughters really like it,” said Wanita Manske, a staff member at SaskMade. “It’s a quick way for them to get their oatmeal.”

Barreras’ biggest challenge now is to get people to try Oatdeal, and he uses free samples to help raise awareness of the product. He plans to keep offering samples at the farmers market and SaskMade for another year.

Barreras hopes to get Oatdeal into national and international markets.

“The Government of Saskatchewan has a huge support for entrepreneurs. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t ever have been able to start this company.”

Another product, Oatffee, is also made of oatmeal but is added to coffee.

For more information, visit www.oatdeal.com.

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