Waihi Bush an Organic Legacy with a new Global Scope

When presented with an opportunity to acquire one of New Zealand’s most recognised organic retail brands, it would be hard to pass on such an opportunity, especially if it perfectly aligns with your current operations. In November 2023, when approached by the previous owners of Waihi Bush Organic Farm, Daryl and Debbie Prebble, owners of the Bio Oils NZ Group, welcomed the addition of this longstanding retail brand.

“Bio Oils, our production company, is New Zealand’s largest producer of cold pressed, extra virgin flax seed oil,” says Daryl Prebble. “Our core business is growing and producing premium quality flax seed oil for the domestic and export markets. We are proud to be uniquely New Zealand and have our flax seed products fully traceable back to the farm where the seed was grown”. 

Bio Oils was established in 1987 when six Canterbury arable farmers and businessmen recognized the health benefits of flax seed and its oil. One of these arable farmers was Daryl’s father, Gavin Prebble, and Bio Oils is proud that the company has been owned and operated by the Prebble family since its inception. 

With Bio Oils being created by farmers for farmers, the company prides itself on the relationship they have with their Canterbury growers.  “Our Canterbury growers produce some of the world’s best oilseeds with high concentrations of bio-actives and healthy omegas. This is due to the unique Canterbury alluvial soils, environment, and weather conditions” Daryl proudly says. 

With a dedicated crop manager and a tailored growth management system in place, Bio Oils works with their growers to ensure the crop is carefully managed, from planting through to harvest. With the support of their community and growers, they aim to achieve a successful crop for the grower, yielding high-quality seed and resulting in premium-quality oil. Linseed is a true break crop and is very suited to organic and regenerative farming with low input and better plant health. Unlike many other break crops, it is not depletetive.  

Working with arable research organisation FAR and internationally recognised linseed plant breeders, Bio Oils is researching and trialling new linseed cultivars. “Having new varieties helps create biodiversity within the soil structure, healthier plants resistant to diseases affecting traditional varieties and ensures a viable crop as older varieties start to decline”. 

Working closely with their growers in the management of these crops, the trials have been very successful. For the first time in New Zealand, Bio Oils has commercially grown autumn-sown linseed crops, introducing new varieties with unique properties that are easier to manage with high yields.  “These Autumn sown options ensure linseed can continue as a viable crop for our growers. I am proud of our Canterbury region and arable farmers; it is a crucial industry for our region, and we need to be looking ahead at ways we can sustain this. We are excited to have our first commercial areas available this year”.  

Sustainable production is at the forefront of the Bio Oils operation. Certified organic with BioGro and Halal certification with FIANZ, the company is now working towards its B Corp certification.  B Corp certification is awarded to companies who are committed to using their business to work towards a more inclusive and sustainable economy and environment. Sustainability, people and the environment are particularly important to Bio Oils and an ethos they value.  

Operating for over 35 years, Bio Oils has perfected its artisan cold pressing techniques to generate zero waste material. Flax seed oil is cold pressed from the whole seed, leaving a flake-type product, also known as de-fatted linseed. This de-fatted seed is then either milled into fine powders for food and beverage use or left in its raw form as a functional ingredient in stock feeds and high-end pet food. 

Bio Oils’ core business is producing high-end flax seed oil, focusing on the high Omega 3 content found in oil cold-pressed from linseed grown in Canterbury.  However, as some of the Waihi Bush products require other healthy oils for their blends, it has given their growers more choice in the oilseed crops they grow for Bio Oils.   “Having more choice to offer our growers, and the chance to use our own New Zealand grown and produced oils in our Waihi Bush products is very exciting and aligns with our ‘New Zealand Grown and Produced’ core value” says Daryl. 

Given they already have a high-end retail brand in Totally Kiwi, it was a natural decision to bring the Waihi Bush Organic Farm brand into the Bio Oils Group. When developing the Totally Kiwi products Debbie found that most flax seed oil products were sold in capsule form in Health and Wellness stores, as a health supplement to take with your daily vitamins.  “I enjoyed using flax seed oil as an edible oil to make dips and dressings or to drizzle over my food, and I often added crushed garlic and herbs to the oil. I could see our cold pressed, extra virgin bottled flax seed oil sitting next to other healthy edible oils in our grocery stores, targeted at health-conscious foodies” says Debbie. “It is so easy to incorporate flax seed oil into our daily diets, and the infused oils are a great way to enhance the flavour profile of dishes, and of course add a healthy dose of Omega 3 too”.  In 2012, after a successful product development stage the Totally Kiwi products were launched. 

Totally Kiwi products are sold in organic stores, specialty food stores and grocery outlets as a gourmet culinary product, whilst Waihi Bush products are found in health and wellness stores throughout New Zealand. “Having a presence in both channels complement each other well and offers consumers choice” Debbie says proudly. 

Debbie is very passionate about the retail brands, and with her background in sales the opportunity to increase market availability was an exciting move. The goal of the retail brands is to help educate consumers about healthy edible oils and the essential Omegas they contain. Essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 and 6 cannot be produced in the body, so they must be consumed in our diets. Our bodies require a balance of these two Omegas, but the typical Western diet results in an imbalance due to the overconsumption of Omega 6 found in cooking oils, grains, and fast foods. Omega 6 can cause inflammation in the body, whilst Omega 3 has anti-inflammatory properties.  Flax seed oil contains a massive 60% Omega 3, making it the best edible oil to address this imbalance and inflammatory conditions. Flax seed oil is also a sustainable choice over standard fish oil Omega 3 supplements and a great product for vegans, vegetarians and those on a Keto or Paleo diet.  

Daryl, Debbie, and the team at Bio Oils are looking to take the Waihi Bush brand globally using their expertise in export markets. “When purchasing the brand, we looked at key performing products, how they would fit into our existing production processes, and how we would market them globally before finalizing the core product range. We are still tweaking the range following customer feedback and are working on developing new products. We’re excited to take the Waihi Bush range to the next stage, increasing the product range while focusing on our core products. With the Waihi Bush products now bearing the NZ Fernmark alongside the BioGro Certified Organic seal and a fantastic team working towards the same goals, there is unlimited potential for the Waihi Bush Organic Farm brand”. 

In joining the Bio Oils Group, Waihi Bush Organic Farm joins a longstanding family-owned and operated business that is proud of the Canterbury region, its growers, its team, and the high-quality products it produces. “We strive for nothing but the best for our customers. It’s who we are, what we do, and what we stand for,” add Daryl and Debbie proudly. Who better to shepherd the Waihi Bush Organic Farm brand to new heights? 

Waihi Bush is a proud silver sponsor of Organic Week.

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