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.
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