Oats are a low input cereal widely grown across the world as both a grain and forage crop. Significant areas of production are in Northern Europe and North America and also in China and Australia. Although a traditional crop in many countries, in the last 50 years there has been a significant shift in oat production as a consequence of changing agricultural production and competition from other cereal crops. Oats are of significant economic importance for human consumption, for livestock feed and increasingly as a source of high value compounds with industrial applications as a consequence of the many unique properties of the oat grain. Traditional use in human diets in many countries has been boosted by the recent recognition of oats as a health food. This is attributed to the presence of β-glucan, the major endospermic cell wall polysaccharide. As a result, there has been an increase in the use of oats and a broadening of oat based products. Increasing knowledge of the composition of the oat grain and its value for the various end-users is leading to new opportunities for the crop. While the value of oats as a break crop in cereal based rotations is widely recognised, maintaining the profitability of the crop whilst meeting the needs of end users is essential for future production. Opportunities exist for plant breeders and agronomists to introduce new oat varieties with tailored agronomic approaches to address this challenge and to ensure the sustainability of oats for the future.