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Network Innovators - Full Sun Company

September 16, 2015

Just about a month ago, Full Sun Company pressed the first batch culinary oils from their new press in a state-of-the-art facility on the fast growing, food and beverage-centric Exchange Street in Middlebury. David McManus and Netaka White have been building to this moment since 2010, when the pair of sustainability professionals met and devised a plan to build a company that could launch a whole new market in the Northeast. David and Netaka's vision was to increase production of oilseed in the region and press healthy, GMO-free (and soon organic) culinary oils while also producing an extremely valuable co-product - meal that is a highly nutritious animal feed and soil additive.

How do you build a locally focused business that relies on an ingredient that is not widely grown in your area? 

 Netaka and David are blazing a trail. Full Sun Company is not a tiny boutique operation - the press can currently process 3,000 lbs of oilseed per day, which puts out over 100 gallons of oil and a ton of meal. Running a mill of this size means sourcing a lot of seed, and David and Netaka have had to search from Minnesota to Eastern Canada for the non-GMO product they needed to launch. In addition, Full Sun contracted 200 acres in Vermont and Essex, New York and will contract at least 300 acres for 2016, but the planting was interrupted by weather this year and, as always, learning to grow a new product takes time and patience. "We’ve found the regional specialty food distributors, chefs and retailers very receptive to trying our oils, and they like the full flavored, cold ­pressed craft oil. But we’ve also heard from interested prospects and customers that they were expecting more of a local or hyper­ local (Vermont only) seed supply than is practical at this scale. It takes years, literally one growing season at a time, to be capable of reaching a regional market with a local seed supply. And we think it’s worth the effort," David shared. Full Sun Company plans to source 50% of their seed from growers less than 200 miles away in five years. This growth could be a huge opportunity for farms with oilseed growing potential in the region. 

Now, about the oil... The high quality Canola and Sunflower Oils are best used as a dipping or finishing oil, in dressings and marinades, and for any medium heat sautéing at the stove - any application where they can shine. It is filtered and craft­ conditioned. Full Sun never uses chemicals or heats the oil above 110 degrees. The finished oil in the bottle is cold­pressed and unrefined, which means it retains the full flavor of the sun ripened seed, as well as a rich golden color and nutty aroma. The oils are low in saturated fat and rich in beneficial oleic, monounsaturated fats, omega ­3, 6 and 9 and vitamin E.

Listen to to this segment on VPR for more of the Full Sun story.

David and Netaka are looking forward to meeting VFN members around the state to introduce their product and vision. For contact and purchasing information, visit their website


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