World oat production is about 26 million tonnes annually (Table 1). Oats (Avena sativa) require a temperate climate and thrive in cool wet conditions but are less cold tolerant than rye, wheat, or barley. Approximately 11% of world production is used for food. Formerly a dietary staple in Northern and Western Europe, oats now contribute modestly to diets worldwide (Table 2). Dietary intakes are highest in Belarus, Estonia, and Finland, where supplies for food use are 24, 20, and 18gday_1 per person, respectively. However, these data are for oat grain, which includes 18-36% of fibrous inedible hull, which is removed in the first stages of milling to yield caryopses (groats). Naked or hull-less types also exist. Groats are further processed by cutting, rolling, or grinding to yield a range of oatmeal, oat-flake, and oat-flour products. These are wholemeal products with a composition similar to the groats. Oat bran, which is less structurally distinct than wheat bran, is made by sieving coarse-milled groats. Oat-mill products can be used for traditional porridge and oatcakes, as an ingredient in baby foods, and in breakfast cereals. Oats cannot be used to make good quality bread, but oat flour can be incorporated at 20-30% in wheat breads.
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