Earlier this year, New Zealand Immigration granted me a business visa to allow me to travel to Christchurch then Gore, Southland, as a guest of Plant Research NZ.

The easiest way to get to Gore is to fly from Christchurch to Invercargill, the southernmost city in NZ, then take a hire car and drive north. This an area of NZ settled mostly by Scots over 100 years ago, so it is hardly surprising that this is where all the oats are grown for the only oat mill, Harroways, in Dunedin.

Scots took their native oats to whatever country the emigrated to, especially where the climate was similar to Scotland

Harroways are now having to up production to meet the extra demand for oat-based drinks. Adrian Russell, of Plant Research NZ, tested several varieties of oats for the business and 'L5 Southern Gold' is now the only variety that Harroways will accept.

It is a very farmer-friendly variety with very stiff straw and mills exceptionally well. The James Hutton Institute, just outside Dundee, has grown L5 in trial lots near Dundee and I had grown demo plots over the past five years.

In years when lodging was a problem, in the untreated plots only L5 remained standing and was the only plot we were able to harvest easily with the trials combine.

In the UK, we have also grown L5 and other milling oat varieties in trial plots as far south as Essex, as well as in Fife. These trials proved that the best quality milling oats thrive much better in the East Coast of Scotland than in the heart of East Anglia.

Just as the very best oats grow best in the very south of NZ, oats do best in the cooler damper climate of the East Coast of Scotland. Sea haar can keep the crop growing longer and the oats are plumper and perfect for milling.

Globally, oat drinks are no longer a niche product and are now taking over from almond, soya and coconut drinks as the consumers' favourite. The average consumer now recognises only home-grown oats offer the only sustainable alternative to cow’s milk.

As growers, we must welcome the building of a new oat milk factory near Peterborough, by Oatly. When it hits full production in 2023 of 450m litres per annum, this will require about 90,000 tonnes of glyphosate-free milling oats. We need to now persuade Oatly that Scotland grows the best milling oats.

Whilst it will 2023 before Oatly produce any oat milk in the UK, a Scottish company has beaten them by at least three years. Oats Scotland have a factory in East Linton and are supplying their own brand of oat drink called 'Brose' to Edinburgh and the Lothians.

My local award-winning farm shop owners at Ardross Farm, tell me they will stock 'Brose oat drink' just as soon as supplies are available. Oats Scotland is also growing its own oats in East Lothian and can rightfully claim to be the very first company to make a Scottish oat drink in Scotland using only Scottish oats and Scottish water.

Whilst giants like Oatly may dominate supermarket shelves, there is a growing demand for locally grown produce. Companies like Oats Scotland not only make a 100% Scottish oat drink, but they can also take customers on virtual tour of their own fields of oats growing in East Lothian.

The demand for plant-based food and drinks will is massive and will only get even bigger. For Scottish arable farmers, there are going to be great opportunities to grow more oats and legumes to meet this demand.

Top supermarkets now accept they must reduce the reliance on imported soya and opt for home grown peas and beans. I have already tasted the latest oat drink that uses pea protein to replicate cows' milk and innovation will help lead the unstoppable charge to plant-based foods in my opinion.