Avalanche PR logo

Press release / Somerset rapeseed farmer recognised for diversification

Press release issued for Somerset food business, Fussels Fine Foods

A SOMERSET farmer who overcame the drop in crop prices and championed British farming is up for a national award

Andy Fussell, who grows and presses rapeseed on his farm in Rode, has been recognised under the Diversification Farmer category at the national Farmers Weekly Awards, for his home-grown alternative to olive oil.

The announcement follows the selection of Fussels Fine Foods – Andy’s brand – for retail at four regional Waitrose stores.

The declining prices in oilseed rape motivated him to find another way of profiting from his crop; producing quality rapeseed oil proved the solution.

After three years, his cold pressed oil can now be found at many regional farmers’ markets, on the shelves of a growing number of supermarkets and within dishes in many local restaurants and hotels.

Andy Fussell’s oil is classified as cold-pressed because no heat is applied during the extraction process. This means that the full flavour and integrity of the oil is retained, but a lower yield results from the pressing – compared with “super heated” processes which produce the standard vegetable oil found in the supermarkets. As his crop is only passed through the press once, it classifies as extra-virgin, enabling it to compete with the best of the olive oils.

It has only six per cent saturated fat compared with olive oil, which typically has 14 per cent, and butter at 59 per cent.   Rapeseed oil also has naturally occurring Vitamin E, an antioxidant and is a good source of Omega 3, 6 and 9.

“Cold-pressed rapeseed oil retains these impressive health benefits and antioxidant properties when used for cooking – unlike olive oil” added Andy.

“Rapeseed oil can be taken to the top of the heat ladder when cooking and it won’t lose its health benefits. This isn’t true of olive oil, which starts to smoke, burn and lose its integrity when heated.”

The Somerset farmer has also engineered his own rapeseed recycling scheme, collecting used oil from trade customers when new deliveries are made, and converting this into biodiesel.

“We collect around 300 litres per week, producing enough biodiesel to run most of the farm vehicles” commented Andy.   “Our customers are pleased that the used oil is being put to good use and my Landrover gives a zero emissions reading on its MOT.”

Since the success of the rapeseed oil and winning the gold award in the 2007 Taste of the West competition, he has expanded his Fussels Fine Foods product range to include rapeseed oil-based sauces, dressings and mayonnaises, made by a firm in Newbury.

Andy also produces a premium oil from the sunflowers grown in his fields – which provide a spectacular backdrop along the A36 each year.

He hopes to implement further diversification by partnering with a local brewer to produce an ale from his crop.

“Just as we’ve done with the rapeseed, I’d like to also add value to the malting barley grown.   My grandfather founded the Fussell’s brewery, so it would be great to resurrect this.”

The Farmers Weekly awards judges reported that Andy Fussell had been shortlisted for being committed to establishing an identifiable brand identity in a competitive market; enthusiastic and effective at increasing local awareness and understanding about wider farming issues; effective and original integration of several diverse enterprises; energetic marketing into supermarkets, retail outlets and farmers markets; and having a recycling scheme for used oil.

Winners of the 2010 Farmers Weekly awards will be announced in October, at a ceremony held in London.

Notes to editors:
The single ‘l’ in Fussels Fine Foods and double ‘ll’ in Andy Fussell are deliberate and both correct!

Please contact Avalanche for more information about this press release, or high res images.