Netherlands retailer to launch Reducol products

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Tesco

Netherlands supermarket chain Albert Heijn is introducing a range
of private label products containing Forbes MediTech's Reducol
plant sterols, and is hoping to emulate the success of similar
products from other European retailers such as Tesco.

Albert Heijn isthe largest supermarket chain in The Netherlands, with around 700 stores serving 2.5 million customers each week.

Charles Butt, president and CEO of Forbes MediTech, said that the size of the chain's distribution network will be "a tremendous asset in launching a range of Reducol-basd dairy products."

Plans for the line include a margarine spread, a spoonable yoghurt, and yoghurt drinks, which are being developed by Fayrefield Foods - the same company that developed Tesco's Reducol-containing line, announced at the end of last year.

Rather than being cowed by the presence of competition in the market, Butt said that The Netherlands represents a unique opportunity for Reducol, since consumers are already familiar with the phytosterols concept.

The Netherlands has lower rates of heart disease than the UK. In 2005, 15 per cent (10,432) of deaths in The Netherlands amongst men were caused by coronary heart disease, and 11 per cent (7972) of deaths amongst women.

The comparable figure for the UK was 24 per cent of male deaths (63,319) and 17,7 per cent of female deaths (51,803).

Like Tesco, Albert Heijn is likely to position its products at a lower price point than proprietary brands, Chris Swire, commercial director of Fayrefield told NutraIngredients.com.

He said that Tesco's line appears to be selling "extremely well"​ and is broadening the market, since sterol-containing products have previously been prohibitively expensive for a large slice of the population.

Benecol cholesterol-lowering margarine is listed on Tesco's online shopping site as costing £3.99 for 500g. Tesco's Reducol-containing product costs £2.99 for 500g.

Another supermarket chain, Kesko, also offers a private label range of sterol-containing products containing Reducol in Finland.

Albert Heijn decided to take the leap as a result of customer research indicating that more and more people are taking an interest in healthy eating - and cholesterol-lowering emerged as a particularly pertinent trend.

"Based on the recent successes in other European markets, we felt thatlaunching a line of Reducol-based dairy products would be appealingto our customers,"​ Bas Hauwert, category manager at Albert Heijn.

Fayrefield has also developed a cheddar-cheese like product containing Reducol, called Heartfelt+. Swire said that since this is a radical concept, it is not yet included in either of the supermarkets' private label ranges.

Rather, Fayrefield plans to grow the market and gain some momentum behind the idea first.

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