Son’s eczema led to pressing of oil

David Musgrave’s success has stemmed from a need to help his son. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
David Musgrave’s success has stemmed from a need to help his son. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
David Musgrave’s youngest son, Oliver, had terrible eczema.

At age 2, he suddenly became allergic to a range of common foods including dairy, wheat and foods containing sugar.

He also developed eczema. After two and a-half years of scratching, someone gave Mr Musgrave a bottle of Canadian flaxseed oil and said it was good for your skin.

"Within a couple of days he was out of our bed for the first time in nearly two and a-half years and life became very different."

Mr Musgrave had been an agricultural scientist for 20 years and decided to look into the how and why this oil worked for his son.

From his research he thought it would be a good idea to make the oil in New Zealand, becoming the first on the market.

The downside of being a scientist was that he did not know anything about running a business.

"It has been an interesting journey. I wanted to create the world’s best flaxseed oils from New Zealand-grown organic flaxseeds (linseed)."

He set to work at his organic farm in Geraldine and in the winter of 1991 created his first bottle of flaxseed oil for friends.

Waihi Bush Organic Farm was born.

The 100ha organic farm was originally settled by his family in the 1870s when the Woodbury area was a significant source of native timber.

Virgin native bush was retained on the property on 15ha and this was now the only remaining example left on the Canterbury Plains.

It included many magnificent totara, matai and kahikatea more than 1000 years old, several over 8 metres in girth.

Mr Musgrave started pressing flaxseed oil at Waihi Bush Organic Farm in 1993, using a tiny press that made about 30 litres a day, with imported technology to protect the delicate oil from damage during manufacture.

By 2002 the 100-year-old farm stable which housed the operation was bulging at the seams. The entire operation was moved into larger premises in Kennedy St, Geraldine and the company name was changed to Functional Whole Foods New Zealand Ltd.

At Functional Whole Foods, the business grew to incorporate more seed oils.

"Utilising the by-product of flax seed oil which is a fibre, and other seed oil fibres I have developed a range of smoothie mixes that include superfoods, which enrich people's diets and are so easy to use. We have tried to improve and support the health of our community in New Zealand."

Covid-19 sales went well.

"We had a busiest day ever just before lockdown from our website sales. Having to organise a roster for someone to come in and sell off the web," he said.

"The New Zealand market is down quite a lot — 80% of our revenue comes from export sales and the last couple of months have been good, a huge help."

Oliver (now 34) still takes his flaxseed oil but less frequently.

"It remains a vital part of his diet and there can be no doubt about the role it has played in restoring his quality of life."

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