Yelo (11)

Source: Yelo

Yelo has the capacity to produce up to 120 million litres of rapeseed oil per year

Newly established cooking oil refiner Yelo has kicked off production of what it claims is the UK’s only edible rapeseed oil mass-produced by mechanical extraction.

At its £50m plant in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Yelo hot-presses only rapeseed grown within around 50 miles of the carbon-neutral facility. Its process removes 95% of the seeds’ oil, which is then filtered through white clay to lessen the colour, flavour and odour – making it a suitable ingredient for the food industry.

All other major producers took the “20th century” approach of extracting oil using hexane, a petrochemical solvent, but Yelo’s method was a “21st century solution” said CEO Kevin Ball. While artisanal oil producers used cold-pressing, this was impractical on a large scale, he added.

The company’s West Midlands facility, which was funded by private equity investors, covers 35,306 sq m and employs about 50 people. It had the capacity to produce up to 120 million litres of rapeseed oil per year – about 20% of the UK’s annual requirement, Ball said. Should Yelo find it necessary to scale up, it would simply extend its existing refinery or build a second, he added.

The operation was “Brexit-proof” insomuch as it sourced only rapeseed from British farms with which it had “long-term” contracts, said Ball. “We don’t need to import rapeseed, so we don’t have to worry about tariffs.”

Yelo also buys biomass wood from a UK supplier to power and heat its refinery. The business imported only “minor processing aids” from Europe, such as white clay – which it had already stockpiled, Ball added.

Having recently secured the highest grade for food safety under the BRC Global Standard, Yelo is now producing rapeseed oil as an ingredient for the likes of food manufacturers and restaurants. “Ninety per cent of the rapeseed oil in the UK is invisible,” according to Ball. “It’s doesn’t go into bottles; it goes into the food we eat.”

Yelo is looking at producing a cooking oil next year for grocery. It already sells “nutritious” animal feed made from its waste rapeseed containing the 5% of oil that hasn’t been extracted.