What started as an attempt at adding value to commodity crops during times of low prices is today a recognized brand sold across North America.
Pristine Gourmet is known for producing virgin sunflower, canola, and soybean oils that rival olive oil in quality and are popular with chefs and consumers alike. The company’s product line also includes Canadian grown edamame, chick peas, legumes and pulses for food service, retail and online markets in Canada and the United States.
“I had a vision to build something from nothing but had no idea back then, when I was looking for how to add value to our grains and oilseed crops, that this would happen,” explains fourth generation Norfolk County farmer and entrepreneur Jason Persall.
The growing trend of consumers wanting to reconnect with where their food comes from helped Persall establish his family farm-focused brand, but funding received through program delivery agent Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) also played an integral role in the establishment and growth of Pristine Gourmet.
Support accessed through AAC helped Persall initiate marketing activities for the oil products that launched his company in 2002. Three years ago, when a market expansion business opportunity in the U.S. came with the need for a new technology for oil production to meet the projected demand, Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, provided funding, again delivered through AAC.
“The financial support available through the funding programs is excellent, but the assistance and guidance AAC provides through their review and project management process is also extremely valuable when you’re a mid-sized farmer launching a new venture,” he says.
The U.S. expansion project was supported by a collaboration with Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO), who recognized the importance of the more than 500 acres of identity preserved soybeans this initiative requires on an annual basis.
“GFO welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with an innovative farmer and showcase new opportunities that add value for grains and oilseeds in Ontario,” he says. “We hope what we do here can inspire others to expand their own operations and undertake innovative, value-added opportunities too.”