New oil tickles the taste buds of top chefs

Collar of Gold has already caught the attention of chefs in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud and Chapter One in Dublin

Going for gold: Peter McCloskey set up the Louth-based company just over a year ago and it now employs four people

Going for gold: Peter McCloskey set up the Louth-based company just over a year ago and it now employs four people

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Collar of Gold may be new to the market, but this pale-coloured rapeseed oil, which has no smell and imparts no flavour or colour to food, has already caught the attention of chefs in a number of fine-dining establishments, including Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud and Chapter One in Dublin and The Five Fields Restaurant in Chelsea, London.

The driving force behind Collar of Gold is Peter McCloskey, former joint managing director of the long-established, family-owned Boyne Valley Group. He set up the Louth-based company just over a year ago and it now employs four people.

“Collar of Gold is Ireland’s first and only mild and light rapeseed oil,” McCloskey says. “It is made with physical [as opposed to chemical] production methods and its unique delicate characteristics are achieved through a specially developed method that only uses water vapour. What appeals to chefs and those interested in cooking about the product is its exceptional purity and thermal heat stability. It also has very high emulsive properties due to the exceptionally delicate manufacturing process which ensures the fatty-acid chain remains unbroken and naturally occurring lecithins are retained.”

McCloskey had been looking for a new niche food product for some time and had set himself a list of criteria that any new product had to meet. These included not currently being made in Ireland and having significant export potential. He also wanted a product that represented a real leap forward in terms of “product proposition, provenance and performance attributes”.

Potential market

Having hit on the idea for a light rapeseed oil, McCloskey spent 24 months researching the potential market and looking at different production methods. He says being able to tap into the considerable manufacturing know-how of the Boyne Valley group was a big help at this point.

“Collar of Gold is being made with a newly developed technology that involves highly sophisticated and exacting engineering and there is simply no comparable product on the market,” he says. “Broadly speaking, there are only two edible oils available: cold pressed oils and refined vegetable or ‘cooking’ oils. Cold pressed oils and their extra-virgin equivalents have always scored high nutritionally, while refined oils offer a neutral taste, heat stability and versatility. Collar of Gold has created a new quality segment by combining the advantages of both production types.”

 Support

Investment in the business so far has been over €500,000 (largely self-financed) and costs are expected to rise to over €5 million by the time the project is fully on stream. The bulk of the expenditure is going on plant and highly specialised machinery. The business has received support from Bord Bia, Louth LEO and Enterprise Ireland and employment is expected to reach 10 people by the end of this year. The rapeseed used to make product comes mainly from Kildare and Wicklow.

Collar of Cold is already on sale in SuperValu stores nationwide and online. It is being distributed to the food service sector here by Boyne Valley. In addition to retail and food service customers, McCloskey is aiming the product at a third group – nutritionally conscious food producers – and this is where the real big sales potential lies.  

Pure natural oil

 “If you look at the list of ingredients on many, many food products they all have oil in them, McCloskey says. “In addition, we know producers are interested in using a pure natural oil instead of highly saturated or chemically processed fats so the opportunities within international food manufacturing are very significant.

 “We have had our product deep tested by the Dundalk Institute of Technology across a number culinary applications from hot oven roasting to deep frying and emulsification and its performance and taste were assessed as being far superior when compared against a branded retail bottle of refined rapeseed oil. When it came to baking with Collar of Gold it produced results similar to those you’d get with a good quality butter,” McCloskey says.

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