A company launched in Whitley Bay less than two years ago is already exporting to 55 countries and is heading for an annual turnover in excess of £1m.

Oatein Ltd makes high protein cookies, brownies and flapjacks.  In its first year of trading it sold 1.2m products. Its range of healthy snacks are now available in Spar supermarkets throughout the UK and Ireland, 125 LuLu Hypermarkets across the Gulf region, 400 stores in Australia, and thousands of gyms and health clubs across Europe.

“We’re also making inroads into the petrol forecourt market where we believe our products are a perfect fit,” said Oatein’s global sales director Andy Dixon. “After all who doesn’t like a cookie with their coffee?”

The company’s astonishing success reflects a staggering rise in the UK’s sports nutrition market.  According to the market research company Euromonitor International, the sale of protein bars has increased by 20% in each of the past five years.  The overall sports nutrition market – which also includes protein supplements – is currently valued at £650m and Euromonitor predicts it will rise to more than £1bn in three years’ time.

The reason for the market’s rapid growth is, said Andy Dixon, for two reasons: high protein diets have become very popular for people – not just body-builders and gym fanatics – wanting to live a healthy lifestyle, and Oatein’s cookies, brownies and flapjacks taste good.

“Oatein came about by chance by a phone call from an old colleague who resigned from his position in a huge international dairy company to set up his own bakery manufacturing high protein, tasty and nutritious snacks,” he added.

“Using our knowledge and expertise of more than 20 years in the industry, we were able to produce something the sports market hadn’t seen before.”

The Oatein Flapjack is available in six flavours, including bannoffee pie, cherry bakewell and chocolate peanut butter.  There are six different Oatein Oats and Protein Cookies: milk chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, white chocolate and blueberry, salted caramel, oatmeal and raisin and chocolate hazelnut. Whilst the recently launched Oatein Brownie comes in cookies and cream, white chocolate and blueberry and double chocolate chip.

The company employs eight people in Whitley Bay and is planning to recruit more staff.  It is currently in negotiations with new distributors in Brazil, Canada, India and Taiwan and its snacks are so popular in the Middle East that the LuLu Hypermarket group has just doubled its order to meet demand. The brand name Oatein – a combination of oats and protein – is now protected by global trademarks.

Oatein’s products are endorsed by the former rugby league star turned BBC summariser Eorl Crabtree and its mascot Mr Oatein has become a familiar and popular figure at trade events and exhibitions.