Farmers co-operative wins Tesco rapeseed oil contract

Berwickshire News -- A local farmers co-operative is supplying Tesco with rapeseed oil just two years after starting production. Already known locally for its Oleifera rapeseed oil, the group of farmers is this week stocking more than 40 Tescos with its product, sold under the name of Border Fields Rapeseed Oil.

Eventually the oil will sell in 125 Tesco stores throughout Scotland and the north of England.

The co-operative's chairperson, Jill McGregor, said: "Rapeseed oil is growing in popularity as it offers a significant number of health benefits and we are delighted to be working with Tesco to make this product available to a wider market."

The group was started by Coldstream Mains farmers Jill and her husband Colin, about two and a half years ago. A further 12 other Borders, Berwickshire and north Northumberland farmers joined the entrepreneurs.

Mrs McGregor said: "We wanted to add value to a crop that we were growing and this obviously helps us by giving us a better return."

She first tried the Coldstream Mains homegrown oil squeezed from a small batch press ."I was thrilled," she said.

"It was really good to cook with and incredibly versatile. My children were happy to eat anything cooked with it and, knowing the health benefits, I was especially pleased."

Rapeseed oil is said to have half the saturated fat of olive oil and 10 times the level of Omega 3. It has a natural balance of Omegas 6 and 9 and high levels of vitamin E. It is also a very stable oil with a high burning point of 230 degrees centigrade.

Knowledge about the oil had gradually spread. While not many people appreciated it as a culinary oil two years ago, much of that has changed with celebrity chefs now recommending it for its health benefits, but also because it cooks to a much higher temperature than olive oil.

Lauded Scottish chef Nick Nairn is known to use Oleifera, the company's other brand, which sells in Sainsbury's and Asda.

The oil is all cold-pressed at a purpose-built production plant near Belford in north Northumberland and its shelf life is a year. It takes one tonne of oilseed rape to produce 300 litres of oil.

Sarah Mackie, head of Tesco Scotland, said: "We are delighted to launch oil that is produced from the oilseed rape that we see so often in Scotland, and we are delighted that our customers will be able now be able to purchase Border Fields oil from our stores."