New capacity for plant sterols at Finnish plant

Related tags Plant sterols European union Time

Finnish firm Forchem is to build one of the world's largest plant
sterol facilities at its site in Rauma, it revealed today.

The company, which specializes in processing crude tall oil from wood pulping, said the new plant will produce some 4000-6000 tonnes of plant sterols annually. It is expected to take about two years to complete.

The €40 million investment will create the largest sterol processor in Europe and a new source of GMO-free plant sterols.

Currently US firm Arboris, a joint venture between Arizona Chemical, the Harting Group and private investors, is thought to have the largest capacity for pine tree-derived sterols at a new plant in Georgia. Canada's Forbes Medi-Tech has also recently entered the European market with sterols derived from forestry byproducts.

These firms are all promoting the benefits of their cholesterol-lowering products over the alternative sterol source, soya. European consumers remain, at the present time, resistant to foods with GM ingredients yet sourcing non-GMO soya has become increasingly difficult.

This presents a barrier to growth in a market that is expanding at around 15 per cent annually, according to Frost & Sullivan forecasts.

Although most of the large sterol suppliers can now supply limited quantities of non-GMO soy-based plant sterols, the new sterol producers claim to have a long-term, sustainable raw material in pine trees.

Nevertheless Martti Fredrikson, president and CEO of Forchem, told that the firm is "counting on organic growth of the market rather than taking market share from competitors".

Forchem​ started manufacturing crude tall oil in 2002 and has three subsidiaries in the EU region to market its products, which are currently used in adhesives, printing products and paints.

Fredrikson said the firm will target both food manufacturers and their suppliers with the new products.

The technology and processing know-how for sterols was carried out at the åbo Akademi University in Finland.

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