Re­gional Food /

Be­hind New Zealand’s only lo­cally-pro­duced cold-pressed ex­tra vir­gin rape­seed oil and high oleic sun­flower oil is a Can­ter­bury busi­ness with lofty as­pi­ra­tions to raise the qual­ity of every­day culi­nary oils used by dis­cern­ing food­ies na­tion­wide.

Latitude Magazine - - CONTENTS - WORDS An­nie Studholme RECIPES Jen Pomeroy, The Mod­ern Mess

The ris­ing suc­cess of The Good Oil

Dur­ing late spring and early sum­mer, crop fields in the South Is­land come to life with the golden flow­ers of pre­mium rape­seed. Once des­tined for the bio­fuel in­dus­try, the tiny black seeds are now turned into high-qual­ity food grade oil by Rolle­ston-based com­pany Pure Oil New Zealand, un­der its brand The Good Oil.

In four short years, The Good Oil has emerged as one of the ma­jor play­ers in the New Zealand culi­nary oil mar­ket with its ex­tra vir­gin cold-pressed rape­seed oil find­ing favour with food­ies na­tion­wide. On the back of the suc­cess of its first of­fer­ing, The Good Oil has re­cently in­tro­duced New Zealand’s first home-grown cold-pressed high oleic sun­flower oil and is also ex­plor­ing hu­man food uses for plant pro­teins from rape­seed meal.

‘It’s an ex­cit­ing time for us,’ says Pure Oil NZ Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Nick Mur­ney. ‘We are now the tenth big­gest oil brand in New Zealand. To get a re­tail brand to the size we have is a big achieve­ment, and we think we can dou­ble that.’ But it’s taken a great deal of time, ef­fort and per­se­ver­ance.

A for­mer in­vest­ment banker, Nick pre­vi­ously worked as agribusi­ness man­ager for Solid En­ergy. When the sta­te­owned coal miner de­cided to cut its losses, sell­ing off its bio­fuel busi­nesses in­clud­ing the pur­pose-built canola (rape­seed) press­ing plant at Rolle­ston, Nick jumped at the op­por­tu­nity. ‘It was a big, beau­ti­ful as­set that was go­ing to be scrapped. The op­por­tu­nity came up and I grabbed it. I could see real value in what we were do­ing,’ he says. ‘If I had known the amount of stress it would cause me I might not have gone there. I was prob­a­bly a lit­tle bit brave, and a lot stupid.’

It wasn’t long be­fore he had other in­vestors on-board in­clud­ing South­ern Pack­ers, a group of Mid and South Can­ter­bury small- to medium-scale onion and potato grow­ers, con­sul­tant agron­o­mist Roger Lasham, and Ash­bur­ton-based seed com­pany Mid­lands. ‘It came to­gether quite quickly. Peo­ple could see the po­ten­tial.’

Right from the out­set, their fo­cus was on pro­duc­ing qual­ity food grade oil, not on bio­fuel. Us­ing the same cold­press­ing tech­niques em­ployed by olive grow­ers to pre­serve the olive oil’s nat­u­ral colour, unique flavour and nu­tri­tional ben­e­fits, Pure Oil NZ went against the grain. ‘Ini­tially, peo­ple thought that cold-pressed rape­seed oil wasn’t fit for hu­man con­sump­tion, but there was al­ready a big mar­ket in Bri­tain and Europe.’ Im­ported rape­seed oil, also known as canola, is com­mon­place on our su­per­mar­ket shelves as a cheap salad and

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