Tirlán is to almost double the production of its gluten-free oats in 2023 to bring levels to an area of about 5,000ac. As a result, the co-op is on the hunt for growers for the coming season.

Donal Moloney, grain manager with Tirlán, said that gluten-free oats are now being grown from south Tipperary to north Dublin and Meath down to Wexford.

The logistics of getting these crops cut is not simple, as Tirlán harvests all the crops with gluten-free combines and transports the crops in gluten-free trailers. This is a massive cost saving for farmers.

“From a crop returns point of view, gluten-free oats is comparable to high-yielding crops of winter wheat,” Moloney commented.

The past few months have been difficult for planting winter crops and so the area of winter oats is down, but this also brings opportunity as land which was not planted into winter wheat after a break crop may become available.

As the time passes to plant winter wheat, growers should consider gluten-free oats in those rotation slots after potatoes or maize, for example, which were not planted last autumn, he commented.

Aside from harvesting and transport costs being covered, a premium of €30/t over base feed wheat price is available. Growers can lock into this price at any stage during the year.

The past few years have seen a huge rise in demand for oat flour and oat-based ingredients used in food production, as well as oats for porridge. Much of this demand has come from customers in the US.

“We’re also producing oat flours now, and that business is growing pretty rapidly,” he explained.

Moloney noted that less than half of the oats are going into oatmeal, while oat products produced from Tirlán’s gluten-free oats are now included in milk, cheese and chocolate to name a few.