The Quebec producer of camelina oil Olimega has obtained recognition for its innovation in one of the largest gastronomic competitions in the world. The family business is taking another step towards the European catering market: a major challenge after the many challenges it has had to overcome to innovate.
Signé Caméline roasted oil won first prize in the Sirha Innovation competition in Lyon, France, a first for a Quebec product.
Olimega, established in Saint-Édouard-de-Napierville, in Montérégie, is already experiencing annual growth of 20 to 25% in its revenues. This prize opens doors for him in Europe, thanks to the recognition given by luminaries of taste.
These European prospects are a new challenge for this company of ten employees which has been able to carry out its innovations one after the other.
Coming from an agricultural background and married to an agricultural entrepreneur, the president and founder, Chantal Van Winden, became interested in the virtues of camelina, a somewhat forgotten plant that contains 35% omega-3, or three times more than olive oil. This former physiotherapist conducted research for eight years until she obtained the virgin oil with the desired qualities. Although the financing was facilitated by Olimega’s ability to draw on the assets of the family farm, the challenges were not lacking.
One of Olimega’s strengths is to have been able to gradually seek out the know-how the company needed throughout its development. “There’s so much to do… But you can’t do everything,” says Chantal Van Winden.
The company has entered into partnerships with processors, for example to entrust the industrial cleaning of the grain, so difficult to carry out due to the small size of the grains. “It allows us to focus our efforts on the rest, and avoid investing in too much equipment,” she points out.
Promoting camelina oil in Quebec has not been easy, while the use of olive oil is firmly established. “When you read cookbooks in Quebec, it seems that there are olive trees growing here,” Chantal Van Winden is still surprised. “Yet there is none!” But the camelina, we grow it in Quebec, and we transform it here into oil. »
For this marketing challenge, Olimega can count on the image it knows how to convey of a long-neglected plant, which is coming back to the fore thanks to its virtues for human health.
Faced with all these challenges, perseverance played a big role. “I think if we had to do what we did again, it would be almost impossible,” says Ms. Van Winden. There were those times when 30% of the production was lost, but also the vagaries of research. “When we pressed and roasted, and it didn’t work… You always had to try to think differently,” she says. “It takes a lot of strength. We know we’re doing something good, but when we get recognition, it’s like a pat on the back that makes you say, let’s keep going! »