IT'S the breakfast of choice for Arctic explorers, Nasa astronauts and international supermodels -- and now it seems that porridge has become the official breakfast cereal of recession Ireland.
Porridge sales traditionally see a spike during January as consumers look to get their health and waistlines back on track, but the Irish have re-established a year-round relationship with the breakfast cereal in recent years.
Retail figures show that 2011 was another year of stellar growth, with the category now worth €23m per annum. Flahavan's controls two thirds of the Irish market, selling the equivalent of three million bowls of porridge per week.
While porridge fell out of favour in Irish households during the late 1990s following an influx of more expensive processed cereals, it began to make a gradual comeback in the early 2000s as its health benefits became appreciated.
But between 2008 and 2011 sales skyrocketed. According to John Noonan, marketing director for Flahavan's, sales of porridge oats have increased by 30 per cent since Ireland fell into recession.
"While people are still buying porridge oats for the health benefits, the main reason for growth over the last few years is that people are looking for a breakfast cereal that is value for money."
The Waterford company was the biggest winner in Nielsen's recent Top 100 Irish Brands list, shooting up from 99th in 2009 to 65th position overall in 2011.