East Midlands’ farmer Nick Bradley has been able to fast-track his marketing after gaining a listing with Tesco for his Heart of Gold rapeseed oil, thanks to a grant from the Food and Drink innovation Network (iNet).

The Innovation Support Grant has helped him to organise tastings at Tesco stores around the region, showcase at The Restaurant Show at Earl’s Court, and at Divertimenti Cookware stores in London. This will help raise awareness of his new product – and the health benefits it brings.

The golden oil is made from the seeds grown in yellow rapeseed fields on Nick’s farm near Belvoir, on the Leicestershire/Lincolnshire border. The tiny black seeds are cold-pressed and the result is filtered to make Heart of Gold rapeseed oil.

Heart of Gold has half the saturated fat of olive oil and high levels of Vitamin E and Omegas 3, 6 and 9. It is the perfect choice for anyone who enjoys good food and wants to look after their heart. In addition, the cold-pressed oil is extremely versatile in cooking due to its high flashpoint. It can be used for frying, baking, roasting and for dressings. Its smooth, delicate flavour also make it ideal as a dipping oil.

Nick was approached by Tesco to initially supply 40 stores in the region.

“We had been thinking about producing a small amount of oil from our rapeseed for some time,” said Nick. “I had read about the nutritional benefits and versatility of oil made from cold-pressing rapeseed and then, just as my wife, Amanda, and I decided to go ahead with our plan, I met Elizabeth Rouse, Regional Marketing Manager from Tesco at a networking event, who asked if we would be interested in supplying 40 supermarkets – it was a great opportunity and just the catalyst we needed to get started.”

The Innovation Support Grant is helping Nick to spread the word about the new rapeseed oil.

Rachel Linstead, Lincolnshire and Rutland adviser for the Food and Drink iNet, said: “This is an excellent example of how Food and Drink iNet Innovation Support Grants can help a business.

“ISGs are designed to make a real difference to a company’s prospects, such as helping the development of a novel technology or process, or a new product, service or way of doing business. This fitted the bill perfectly.”

The Food and Drink iNet is aiming to foster innovation in the region’s food and drink sector by encouraging businesses to turn new ideas into new business through the development of new technologies and products. It’s also hoping to stimulate new processes, services and ways of working in the industry to help boost the sector in 2009 and beyond.

Funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda), the Food and Drink iNet is managed by a consortium, led by the Food & Drink Forum and including the Food Processing Faraday Partnership, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Lincoln, and the University of Nottingham.

Through the ISGs, support valued at up to £10,000 is available per business, providing that 50% match-funding is given by the company in ‘cash’ or in ‘kind’.

The money can be used to fund external expertise and knowledge to help manage innovation projects more effectively – giving businesses a route to some of the most up-to-date and comprehensive information available to help them kick-start their idea.

The Food and Drink iNet can work with small and medium sized businesses as well as larger companies in the sector across the East Midlands.

For more information and to arrange a meeting with one of the team to discuss an idea, please contact the Food and Drink iNet on 0845 521 2066 or visit www.foodanddrink-inet.org.uk


Pictured is Nick’s son Charlie Bradley in the family kitchen