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Mike Medlock and his daughters on the farm in Scotland

A Scottish farming family has launched a new range of oatmeal, Honest Oats, direct to health-conscious consumers over the internet.

The Medlocks farm organic, gluten-free oats on 260 acres near Laurencekirk. The new brand is part of the family’s Oatmeal of Alford business, which in recent years has been focused on supplying wholesale to manufacturers as well as to hotels.

Honest Oats is the brainchild of Michael Medlock, who recently returned to the Scotland with his young family after working in the Middle East in the oil and gas industry. He works with his parents, John and Carol, who process around 350 tons of their own oats every year.

The farm at Mains of Haulkerton, where they operate a dedicated oat plant with a roller mill and a dehulling line, has been certified organic for nearly 40 years and has been gluten-free for the last seven years.

Although oats do not contain gluten, they must meet stringent standards to be called “gluten-free” under food labelling regulations. Contamination from storage silos, machinery or even nearby farms can cause producers to fail to meet the standard. The Medlocks are thought to be the only such producer of organic, gluten-free oats in Scotland.

The move comes as the Medlock family faced a drop in oatmeal sales due to coronavirus as well as spiralling costs to ship wholesale to European buyers under post-Brexit rules. The cost of sending their traditional brand goods, Oatmeal of Alford, to Europe has more than doubled due to red tape imposed on hauliers under the terms of new trading arrangements between Great Britain and Europe.

Michael said the new brand marks a full circle for the family’s business. The new range is still hand packaged in biodegradable materials and has been highly successful since it was launched for sale at the start of the year. Honest Oats appeals to consumers who are interested in healthy and sustainable food with provenance – as well as for a good price.

Michael said: “Provenance and quality are important to us. We walk through every field we cut in the summer to ensure it meets the standard of gluten-free.

“We believe we are offering great value to the customer on the internet because they are getting it direct from our family farm and it’s not going through another buyer or merchant.”