After living in Montreal and Atlanta, Dale Horeczy and Brad Daily wanted to return to their roots and settled in rural eastern Ontario. They wanted to get closer to where the food is grown and to support local farmers and contribute to the
local food scene by making a product not already available.
They settled on sunflower oil and have been growing and pressing their Kricklewood Farm high-oleic cold-pressed sunflower oil since 2012. Jody Kerzman visited with them about their products.
Explain the idea behind Kricklewood Farm.
We are an artisan producer of cold-pressed sunflower oil. We both grew up on the Canadian prairies near Winnipeg and saw many sunflower fields in the area. When we moved to this area and had a farm with 60 acres of fields, we did some research on what was being done in the local food movement in this area and discovered a farm in Quebec producing oil. That farmer became a mentor and helped us get established. The first crop went in 2012, and we were pressing the next January.
How do you use sunflower?
We use sunflower seed to press for sunflower oil. We make several different flavors of sunflower oil, including maple balsamic, sun-dried tomato and basil, chili and herb, garlic and lemon, and more.
Why do you use sunflower?
We are promoting ourselves as a local food producer; our oil is an alternative to olive oil; and many of our customers appreciate that the oil is not shipped from Greece or Italy or California. It provides a high-oleic, omega 9, non-GMO, trans-fat free option for home cooks making healthy choices.
Where do you get the sunflower you use?
We grow our own on our farm in Frankville, Ont., and we also have the option of buying from other growers in Ontario.
What makes your products stand out?
We are the only producer of a cold-pressed sunflower oil in eastern Ontario.
Where is your oil available?
It is available to purchase on our website
and on Amazon, as well as in several grocery stores. You can find a store locator on our website.
What kinds of challenges have you faced along the way?
Our biggest challenge is convincing people that there is a local alternative to olive oil. Everyone knows olive oil, but the average person doesn’t necessarily know about sunflower oil.
Approximately how much sunflower do you use each year?
We are a niche producer, so approximately 20 tons.
What market segments do you supply?
We sell through specialty grocery stores, health food stores, gourmet food shops. Our customer is a home cook who likes to try new recipes and is interested in eating healthy and knowing where their food comes from.
What are the latest trends in each market segment you serve?
The trend is towards healthy fresh eating, experimenting with a variety of oils in the kitchen. Some of our customers use a different oil for different cooking jobs.
What is your customer’s perception of sunflower oil?
They appreciate the fresh flavor of the cold-pressed oil — the fact that it tastes like sunflower seeds is repeated often. It is also perceived as a light oil compared to some others.
Are there any new offerings, new products?
We are planning on offering some aiolis using our sunflower oil and maybe some new flavors in our infused selection. People have been asking for rosemary infused and also lime infused.
Are you doing advertising, PR, social media or grassroots efforts to promote your product? If yes, what?
We do all of the above, but mostly digital advertising tied in with our social media. We use Facebook
mostly. We try to use PR with local chefs and nutritionists to recommend sunflower oil. We have done events on the farm when our field is in bloom and use it as a fundraiser for local animal rescues. We are able to get coverage in local papers and radio with the attraction of the sunflower field and the fact that we are also raising money. In terms of grassroots, we do a lot of events where we sell directly to the public: foodie-type events, farmers markets, harvest festivals, Christmas events. We use that opportunity to sample our oil and usually find that when people realize how good the flavor is, they are open to buying.
What does the future hold for your company? New products? New promotions or marketing strategies?
We are emphasizing broadening the availability of our product in specialty grocery stores outside of our region and also online through Amazon. We are promoting our sunflower oil as the Canadian answer to olive oil.