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Sun 5 Mar 2006 04:00 AM

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Garusana sows seeds for growth

While few people apart from the Chinese seem to be aware of the benefits of grape seed oil, the product could soon gain a strong following in the Middle East.

Most people are not aware that cooking oil can be made from grape pips. Indeed, until just a few years ago, the seeds removed from grapes being used for juice or wine were viewed as little more than a waste product.

But while oil extracted from grape seeds has been used in China as a traditional cosmetic product to rejuvenate the skin, a wider audience is now starting to discover the oil for its culinary properties. Furthermore, grape seed oil has a high burning point and a neutral flavour, making it particularly suitable for cooking.

This is a situation that brought Garusana Ltd, a UK-based exporter of branded foodstuffs, to last month’s Gulfood exhibition. “There are few people in the world who realise the benefits of this oil. They come and ask us ‘how do you extract the oils from grape seeds,’” Mr Shafizadeh, of Garusana, told RNME.

“It has high levels of anti-oxidants, high contents of Omega-3 and other polymers that are vital for the body. It also helps to increase the HDL cholesterol and reduce LDL, or bad cholesterol,” he added. “It’s completely tasteless and colourless, contains high levels of vitamin E and C, and yet the cost falls between sunflower oil and olive oil. By using this oil you can save money and your health.”

And for Shafizadeh, these benefits are good enough reason to consider introducing grape seed oil to the Middle East. “We hope to see grape seed oil on the shelves soon after the exhibition. We hope to meet two or three interested companies that will want to import it. We would like to get in on the shelves as soon as possible.”

But grape-seed oil is not the only product that London-based Garusana deals with. The business represents about 10 different products, each with a focus on health, from various sources. Among other products distributed by Garusana are a pure honey from Spain, olive oil, and biscuits and cakes that are free from animal fat, colourings and sugar.

About 50% to 60% of Garusana’s business is in the Middle East, and its target is to increase this to about 70%. “We found last year’s exhibition wonderful,” Shafizadeh said. “We gained business as a result of it and that’s why we are repeating it.”

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