Raisio adds to nutritional oils portfolio

Related tags Omega-3 fatty acids Omega-3 fatty acid Nutrition

Benecol maker Raisio has stepped up its functional oil offering
with the acquisition of Camelina, a start-up producing omega-3 rich
oil from the camelina sativa oilseed.

Raisio​ previously had a 20 per cent interest in Camelina and has now acquired the company's remaining share capital for €1.2 million.

Raisio plans to develop new health foods based on the camelina oil, which is already used in its Beneviva margarine for heart health. It is also found in salad dressings offered by Finnish brand Kesko.

It could also be the company's first addition to its stanol ester ingredient business, however Raisio vice president of communications Taru Narvanmaa said the company had not yet decided whether it will also offer the camelina oil as an ingredient.

Camelina​ has been contract farming the oilseed plant in Finland since 1999, following research into its viability under an EU-funded project. Its current turnover is only around €200,000 but Raisio, which already has oil milling capacity, could expand the business and increase production output.

The ingredient could prove popular as one of few plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Camelina seed contains more than 40 per cent oil, and as much as 40 per cent of the fatty acids are omega-3, increasingly taken in supplements or foods because of their benefits for heart and mental health.

The most common source of omega-3 fatty acids in supplements and functional foods is fish but plant-source omega-3 is also in demand for its better taste profile and suitability for vegetarians.

Camelina is also less expensive and more stable than fish oils and therefore considered more suitable for enrichment of spreadable vegetable fats and salad dressings.

The only other plant-derived oil significantly used for its omega-3 fatty acids is flax but as yet it only accounts for 4 per cent of Europe's €160 million omega-3 market. It may be held back by the opinion that not all of the alpha-linolenic acid found in flax can be converted to the omega-3 fatty acids more readily used by the body, EPA and DHA.

Also known as false flax and 'Gold of Pleasure', camelina was widely grown in Eastern Europe and Russia up to the early 1940s but was replaced with the widespread use of oilseed rape.

It is currently cultivated mainly in Finland and some areas of Germany but is not widely available as a food ingredient.

Raisio sold its chemicals unit earlier this year and has embarked on a new strategy​ designed to position it as a leading producer of plant-based foods and health ingredients.

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