PepsiCo opens its first UK oat testing lab at NIAB Cambridge

1 Dec 2022
NIAB has welcomed PepsiCo to its Park Farm site in Cambridge with the opening of its first UK oat testing laboratory, which aims to help growers boost yields and build future resilience of oat production.

Image caption: Opening the new Pepsico oat quality laboratory at NIAB. From left to right: NIAB Head of Analytical Services Helen Appleyard, PepsiCo Research Director Professor Ian Puddephat, PepsiCo R&D Director Mac McWilliam, NIAB CEO Professor Mario Caccamo and PepsiCo Senior Scientist Peter Bright.


  • PepsiCo opens new UK facility at crop research organisation NIAB which includes analysing oats from the company’s innovative R&D agricultural science programmes and regenerative agriculture trials.
  • New Cambridge-based laboratory in partnership with NIAB will provide Quaker Oats growers with data-driven insights on how to maximise yield and oat quality, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Move will help the company future-proof its supply while achieving its global ambition of spreading regenerative farming practices across nearly three million hectares of land by the end of the decade.

In a UK first for PepsiCo, a new research lab dedicated to testing oats from its innovative R&D agricultural science programmes has formally opened in partnership with NIAB. The facility aims to help the 300+ UK Quaker Oats growers produce the best possible oats while reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and maximising yield, meeting future demand for Quaker products.

The new laboratory, located at crop research organisation NIAB in Cambridge, is home to state-of-the-art grain quality testing facilities.  Expert crop researchers will now use the facilities to test and analyse thousands of oat samples from regenerative agricultural trials for milling and nutritional requirements.

This move follows PepsiCo’s long-standing partnership with NIAB who work to improve agricultural and horticultural crop production, bringing together the specialist knowledge, skills and facilities required to understand the performance and quality of agricultural crop varieties and seeds.

The data collected from the lab will feed into PepsiCo research projects including the company’s Opti-Oat Crop Intelligence programme which offers information and insights on how to grow the perfect oat in its Oat Growth Guide, part of the Opti-Oat initiative which aims to deliver a 5-10% increase in yield while contributing to more sustainable crop production.

The facility’s opening builds on PepsiCo’s trusted and close partnership with its 300+ Quaker Oats growers. This includes helping all UK Quaker Oat farmers to reach the LEAF Marque sustainability standard by rolling out regenerative agriculture practices which support improved biodiversity, soil health, water and air quality.

Helping growers improve yield is more important than ever as Quaker Oats products continue to be firm favourites on breakfast tables across the country, with the vast majority of its range outside of the HFSS category following extensive reformulation and innovative new product development.

Image caption: The PepsiCo team in the new oat testing laboratory at NIAB's Park Farm site near Cambridge.

Peter Bright, Senior Scientist at PepsiCo UK, said: “Growers are facing pressure on several fronts, with issues like extreme weather and rising costs of materials like fertiliser, making it more difficult for them to grow their crops. With the new testing facility, we want to support growers by giving them useful data and insights that can help optimise their yield and produce the best quality Quaker Oats, while protecting the planet by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

"With over 100,000 tonnes of oats going through our mill in Scotland every year, it's really important that we support our growers to meet growing consumer demand for Quaker Oats in a sustainable way. Our dedicated oat quality testing facility is a win for PepsiCo, NIAB, our growers and ultimately our consumers through producing the best quality Quaker Oats whilst delivering against our PepsiCo Positive goals.”

Helen Appleyard, Head of Analytical Services at NIAB, added: “Setting up this facility with PepsiCo has been fantastic and we have benefitted from each other’s knowledge and experience in the industry. PepsiCo’s investment has improved our shared spaces and equipment, generated new ideas for ways of working and staff training opportunities, including better knowledge of the oat crop from field to bowl.”

The new facility comes as the popularity of Quaker Oats continues to rise, with the Quaker Pots range growing by +13% MAT and Porridge To Go bars growing at +5.3% YTD TY. With health the number one need at breakfast, the hot cereals segment, which includes Quaker Oats, has also grown by +1.4% RSV YTD YoY, and accelerated by +2% RSV YoY Latest 12 weeks.

The move also forms part of PepsiCo Positive, the company’s global strategy which puts health and sustainability at the core of the business. Globally the company is working towards its impact-driven Positive Agriculture ambition, aiming to achieve the following by 2030:

  • Spread regenerative farming practices across nearly three million hectares (approximately equal to its entire agriculture footprint) which the company estimates will eliminate at least three million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade.
  • Improve the livelihoods of more than 250,000 people in PepsiCo’s global agricultural supply chain.
  • Sustainably source 100% of its key ingredients.