Rapeseed oil suppliers have formed an organisation to protect and promote the quality of the home-grown premium product.

Grown and extracted by an estimated 30 suppliers in the UK, cold-pressed rapeseed oil is sold as a premium oil that producers say has a subtle flavour and the lowest saturated fat content of any commonly extracted edible oil. Unlike the rapeseed oil often sold as generic vegetable oil, the cold-pressed product is extracted without using heat or chemicals.

With value sales of premium rapeseed products growing 22.7% year-on-year to £3.2m [TNS 52w/e 17 May], producers believe the market is set to expand rapidly but fear the growth of the market may bring with it suppliers offering inferior products under the cold-pressed rapeseed banner.

In a bid to head off such threats, they have formed the British Cold-Pressed Rapeseed Association to develop standards and protocols for the product. "The market in this country is very fragmented," said association chairman Richard Palmer, who is chief executive of rapeseed oil producer Border Fields. "It is clear we have a fantastic product but we are concerned that when the market explodes it will attract a range of producers. We want to protect the quality of the product."

The association also plans to educate consumers about the benefits of cold-pressed rapeseed oil. "One of the biggest issues is that people don't understand what cold-pressed rapeseed oil is," said Palmer. "It is a quality product made without heat or chemicals - nothing put in, nothing taken away."

Focus on Oils