Forbes Medi-Tech Inc, the Canadian company which leads the world in the production of plant sterols, has completed the construction of a new wood sterol manufacturing plant in Texas at a cost of $16.2 million.
The manufacturing plant is operated by Phyto-Source LP, a joint venture between Forbes and Chusei (U.S.A.) Inc. Through Phyto-Source, Forbes presently has the capacity to produce upwards of 360 metric tonnes of pharmaceutical and food-grade sterols annually.
Forbes anticipates the plant will be capable of producing 1,000 metric tonnes annually of pharmaceutical and food-grade sterols by the second quarter of 2002.
Plant sterols, also known as phytosterols, are lipid-like compounds extracted from plants used to produce cholesterol-lowering food ingredients. Sterols are also used as raw materials to make certain pharmaceutical products.
"Forbes is very optimistic about the future growth potential for wood-derived sterols because of the wide range of applications they have in the food, pharmaceutical and dietary supplement markets," said Charles Butt, president of Forbes Medi-Tech.
"Unlike competing soy-sterol products, which arelimited to oil-based foods such as margarines and spreads, Forbes' wood-based sterols can be incorporated into both fat-based and low-fat foods such as cheese, milk, breads, pasta, and confectionery items.
"Forbes' wood sterols also come from non-genetically modified sources which is particularly important in the European and Far East markets. We believe these competitive advantages combined with heightened consumer awareness of the benefits of sterol-enriched foods will significantly increase demand for wood-based sterols in the future."
The plant will produce standard wood-grade sterols as well as Forbes' proprietary functional food ingredient Phytrol, which is sold under the brand name Reducol.
Plant sterols and stanols in products such as Reducol can effectively lower blood cholesterol levels by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine.