Benecol has expanded its plant stanol, cholesterol management-based health offering in the UK by adding vitamins that permit approved EU heart and bone health claims – a move analysts said should resonate with older consumers and give rival pro-activ food for thought.
Benecol Plus Bone Health contains calcium and vitamin D, and Benecol Plus Heart Vitamin B1 contains vitamins B1, B6, B12, E and folic acid.
Mintel analyst David Jago said Raisio-owned Benecol was adding, "another string to the bow" that should give consumers, “reasons to buy the Benecol product rather than main rival Unilever’s plant sterol-based Pro-activ.”
The vitamins all won approved EU health claims under the nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) that were officially approved in December last year.
Euromonitor International analyst Diana Cowland said the move affirmed Benecol’s commitment to Europe’s market and especially the growing elderly segment of that market.
“It’s an interesting development where the brand is clearly focused on targeting the ageing population in its key region – Western Europe,” Cowland said, even as Benecol had expanded in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Chile, Ecuador and Indonesia.
Of the new proposition she said, “I think it is a logical progression from only focusing on lowering cholesterol.”
“It is an ‘all-in-one’ product targeting primary concerns of the ageing population. The functional ingredients added in order to make these additional claims are vitamins and minerals and therefore consumers are, on the whole, aware of their benefits and comfortable with ingesting them. Hence, it will not deter any of Benecol’s existing consumer base.”
She added: “Therefore Benecol have gone one step ahead of Pro Activ in terms of offering a more complete product for those who are concerned about health management in terms of the onset of ageing.”
According to Euromonitor, the strongest EU markets for Benecol are Poland (market share: 63.9% yoghurt; 66% oils and fats), the UK (76.6% yoghurt; 28.4% oils and fats) and Finland (30.2% yoghurt; 21.1% oils and fats ).
It puts the global market for these kinds of products at about €2.45bn with Unilever’s pro.activ brand and Raisio’s Benecol brands the runaway leaders. Raisio engages in brand licensing to others like McNeil Nutritionals while pro.activ appears under Unilever brands like Flora and Becel in different countries.
For the Pro.activ brand alone, Euromonitor noted that between 2007 and 2012, spreads had increased in sales from €309m to €394m. Its yoghurt-based products fared less well, sliding from €124m to €104m. Overall the range was worth about €500 in 2012.
“We expect the brand to continue to grow in oils and fats in 2013 by approximately €15m but sales in yoghurts will continue to see a negative growth of about €2.2m,” the market analyst observed.
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