Small-Scale Oilseed Processing: Evaluating Edible Camelina Oil for its Market Demand and Value-Added Opportunities

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2010: $5,999.81
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Kathleen Batalden Smith
Omega Maiden Oils

Annual Reports

Information Products

Camelina: Seed to Oil (Multimedia)


  • Agronomic: general oil crops


  • Crop Production: no-till
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, value added
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Proposal summary:

    The financial success of small farms is all-too-often solely dependent upon market prices for commodity crops. This limits a farmer’s ability to influence his/her yearly profits. Farmers need more control and more choices – they must have viable options for diversifying their operations. One way to boost small farm sustainability and financial security is to provide farmers with a variety of well-researched alternative crop options that have proven themselves financially profitable at a small scale. This project will help determine if camelina is a viable option for our farm (and other farms) to consider adding to their operations. Our local economy has been weakened by a decrease in population and a merging of farmland ownership resulting in larger and less diversified farms, and very few on-farm value-added businesses that grow and process locally grown crops. We need opportunities that create jobs, keep dollars in our local economy, and stimulate additional business activities in our communities. The main objectives of our project are to: (1) formally assess the market demand for food-grade camelina oil, and (2) examine the economic profitably of growing, processing, and selling edible camelina oil as an on-farm business venture. Our project will help strengthen the local economy by introducing into it a locally grown and processed product – edible camelina oil. It will raise awareness of camelina as an alternative crop and stimulate interest in on-farm oil production. This project will also serve as a regional case study for establishing an on-farm business venture. By offering an example of how to “think outside of the box” in order to diversify farm production and income, our project will inform farmers on how camelina (or other oilseeds) may strengthen and/or expand their existing operations. Our proposed work plan involves the following: We will begin by conducting a formal market survey to determine the demand for edible camelina oil. This will be done in partnership with private market consultants made available at no cost to us through a Minnesota non-profit called the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI). The market survey will help us determine how, to whom, and at what price to advertise our oil. AURI will also conduct analytical tests to determine camelina’s nutritional content. Organic Valley Coop will work with us to press our 2010 camelina crop into oil free of charge. (Should we be successful in selling our initial inventory, we will consider purchasing an oil press in the near future. In the mean time, we will factor the cost of purchasing/leasing an oil press into our cost analysis to determine if the business venture would be profitable.) We will purchase the supplies necessary to bottle and label the oil ourselves. (Oil can be bottled and capped by hand and then sealed with shrink caps by simply using a hair dryer or tea kettle.) We will develop and implement a plan for marketing/selling the oil (including the creation of a website) beginning early summer 2011. To educate the public (especially other farmers and potential retailers) and spur interest in camelina oil, we will create and distribute an informational brochure highlighting the nutritional benefits of camelina oil. In 2011 we will plant about 8 acres of camelina (exact acreage will depend on market findings and initial sales). We anticipate processing more oil during the winter of 2011/2012, and planting it again in 2012. (We may experiment with seeding camelina during the winter of the second year; if successful, it would save on energy/labor costs because less spring tilling would be required.) Our business plan and project activities for the second year of the project must remain somewhat flexible, as we will adjust them according to our experiences and lessons learned during the first year. Our project goals, outreach partners/plan, and evaluation plan will remain the same.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.