UK produced rapeseed oil knocking back sales of imported olive oil

4 Jun 2013

Home produced rapeseed oil has become so popular with health conscious shoppers it is now knocking back sales of imported extra virgin olive oil for the first time.

Home produced rapeseed oil has become so popular with health conscious shoppers it is now knocking back sales of imported extra virgin olive oil for the first time.

Extra virgin olive oil, from the Mediterranean, rose dramatically in popularity during the noughties after being endorsed by celebrity chefs, particularly Jamie Oliver who produced his own range.

But now sales have fallen into decline as shoppers turn to healthier rapeseed oil in a move that is not only aiding the home economy but also helping cut down our carbon footprint.

In the last year volume demand for bottles of rapeseed oil have grown by 11.5 per cent across all retailers while extra virgin olive oil has fallen to minus 0.9 per cent, according to retail analysts Kantar (Feb 2013).

At Tesco sales are so strong – growing by 60 per cent in the last year - that it now sells 21 different varieties including ones infused with chilli, ginger, garlic, lemon, and garlic.

Food experts say the main reason for the change is that rapeseed oil has the lowest saturated fat content of any edible oil.

Tesco local sourcing manager Gemma McIvor said: “Anyone driving through the British countryside recently can’t fail to have noticed the abundant fields of bright yellow rapeseed and over the last few years more and more UK producers have turned to grow this relatively new cash crop.

“We started selling cold pressed rapeseed oil five years ago and since then it has really taken off and we now stock varieties from all over Britain.

“Rapeseed is extremely easy to grow and now that there is a growing awareness of it as a healthier alternative to olive and vegetable oil we think that more farmers will be tempted to grow it and more shoppers will consider buying it.

“There is also the added incentive for ethical shoppers that because it is produced locally it cuts down on the carbon footprint of imported oils.”

Due to the growing demand Tesco stocks rapeseed oils produced in Somerset, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Yorkshire, Northumbria, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Sussex, Hampshire and Aberdeenshire.

These local varieties are sold in stores in and around the counties where they are produced – each has its own regional flavour and look.

One of its suppliers is Borderfields, a company set up by a small group of farmers on either side of the Scottish border in Northumbria and Berwickshire.

It began production in 2006 at the start of the boom and has since become the UK’s most popular producer of rapeseed oil – with production tripling to 1.75m litres in 2013.

Ben Guy, managing director of Hammond Food Oils, parent company of Borderfields said: “Cold pressed rapeseed oil has reached an important milestone as it’s now considered a mainstream product. This is an amazing transformation, especially when you think that only seven years ago, it was essentially non existent in the UK.

“Building awareness of the benefits of cold pressed rapeseed oil has been a big part of driving growth over the past few years. It’s now our responsibility as manufacturers to capitalise on the likely increases in olive oil prices, by making our offerings as competitive as possible, encouraging more to try this great British alternative.”


Note to editors:

Health benefits of rapeseed oil

Rapeseed oil has just six per cent saturated fat content. Most olive oils have 14 per cent. Sunflower oil has 10 per cent.

  • In terms of unsaturated fats rapeseed oil has 59 per cent mono unsaturated fat and 30 per cent poly unsaturated fat.
  • Rapeseed oil has an incredible 11 times more Omega 3 content than olive oil which is good for blood circulation and young brains.
  • It has a higher Vitamin E content than other oils – which is the natural antioxidant that looks after the Omega 3 content during cooking.
  • It is extremely versatile as it has a higher burn point than olive oil so it can be used for roasting and frying while ‘holding’ all the beneficial Omega fats.
  • It is also very versatile in cooking and can be used in stir fries, roasting, salad dressing to replacing butter in a flap jack, bread and cakes.
  • Among other benefits of rapeseed oil are that it appears to decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol within a low fat diet.


For more information please contact the Tesco Press Office on
01992 644645

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