Leona marks decade in business and plans an “exciting future” of growth

Enterprising Limavady businesswoman Leona Kane is busy planning to ensure the continuing growth of her Broighter Gold enterprise, the multi-award winning pioneer of quality cold-pressed rapeseed oils, as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.

By Sam Butler
Monday, 23rd August 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 23rd August 2021, 8:39 am

Enterprising Limavady businesswoman Leona Kane is busy planning to ensure the continuing growth of her Broighter Gold enterprise, the multi-award winning pioneer of quality cold-pressed rapeseed oils, as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Based on a family farm at Myroe in Co Londonderry, Leona and husband Richard launched Broighter Gold in 2011 as a farm diversification project. While Richard focused on the extensive arable, including growing oil seed rape, and livestock farm that’s been in his family for generations, Leona drove what has become a major supplier of rapeseed culinary oils to retailers and chefs throughout the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.

“We are planning what I believe will be a very exciting 10 years ahead of us,” she says. “While we will continue to grow the rapeseed oils we have another business venture at the planning stage and are currently awaiting permission. It will tie in nicely with our food offerings and the local Taste Causeway area.  It’s something I have dreamed of doing for years and it’s finally starting to take shape,” adds Leona.

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Leona Kane, the enterprising founder of multi-award winning Broighter Gold rapeseed oils in Limavady

She is justifiably proud of the past 10 years of impressive growth in culinary oils, a growth highlighted by sales to one of the most prestigious food halls in Paris and the big Al Maya supermarkets in Dubai.

“Our developing export business is firmly rooted on strong sales across Northern Ireland in butchers, delis, fruit and veg shops, and increasingly supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s, Supervalu and Centra stores.  We also sell in the Irish Republic in selected shops,” she adds. As a result of this outstanding success, Broighter Gold is the market leader here.

Leona, a mother of two, acknowledges that the early days of the business were challenging. “It seemed like everything was completely against us in setting up the company,” she continues.

“We had so many hurdles to jump through from setting up the pressing room to getting Environmental Health to understand what we were planning before we could even press a drop of oil.  We had to learn as we went along. We were advised by a few other UK producers. I took part in courses at Greenmount College while pregnant with my daughter. I am also grateful for advice from chef Paula McIntyre and other producers such as Peter Hannan of Hannan Meats and Simon and Jilly Dougan of Yellow Door,” she says.

Leona continues: “The oil wasn’t a sudden brainwave when we woke up and decided to press oil and then began making it.

“We had a lot to learn about the oils and the whole cold-pressing process,” she continues.

Broighter Gold – named after an Iron Age gold horde found on the farm in 1896 and now in the Ulster Museum, has created an impressive portfolio of original oils from the farm’s oilseed rape including unique flavours such as Black Truffle and Porcini, Basil and Garlic and Rosemary and Lemon that are the preferred choice of chefs in many parts of Ireland. The small company is a Food NI member.

In addition to the oils, Broighter Gold has expanded into industrial tourism by developing an exhibition centre through the international EconoMusee network that enables visitors to see how the oils are produced and used in cooking. Leona is also making honey from her own hives.

Looking back, Leona says: “I am extremely proud of the great team that we’ve created and the range we’ve developed.

“It’s immensely encouraging that we are growing through the pandemic, demonstrating the resilience of the business.”

She attributes the outstanding success to “the consistency and quality of our oils and the production process”.

Justifiably, Leona is proud of the awards won.

“We have won Blas na hEireann Best Producer in County Derry for five years in a row.  We were also delighted to have won Best UK Producer in the UK with Hotel Indigo in London a few years ago. We were up against some of the greatest food producers across the UK.

“Being nominated for the British Farming Awards, getting through to the finals and then being invited to the awards ceremony was a highlight for us as farmers.  We won Diversification Innovator of the Year (Small to Medium) Business.  We have also won UK Great Taste awards for quality and outstanding flavours,” she adds.

Leona is confident the next decade will be “very exciting” for the business. “We have a successful brand that’s widely recognised and a strong and loyal portfolio of customers.

“Our sales of existing oils, for instance, doubled during the pandemic through our e-commerce site as well as to existing and new stockists and supermarkets,” she adds.

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