Fenchem says that the European market already accounts for 60 per cent of Fenchem's export sales. With novel foods approval Fenchem expects sales of the Cholevel brand, suitable for use in cholesterol-lowering margarine, mayonnaise and cream products to increase by between 30 and 60 per cent in the EU.
The company has sought substantial equivalence opinion through the food regulatory authorise in Finland, but Fenchem's Juan Liu stressed that this is not an indication that Finland - homeland of Raisio's Benecol brand of plant stanols - is more important than any other European market. Once an opinion is given in one EU member state, it is then circulated to all the others.
Fenchem is basing its petition on substantial equivalence to ADM's product.
It has previously differentiated Cholevol from other products on the market through its non-GM origins, since European consumers remain largely opposed to genetic modification.
Fenchem received IP (identity preserved) certification for soy-derived natural vitamin E, phytosterols and isoflavones from Swiss third party testing group SGS in March 2005.
However difficulties in sourcing IP preserved soybeans in China, against a global backdrop where more and more soy is genetically modified, Fenchem's product comes in at around 20 per cent more expensive than GM-sourced material.
At the beginning of this year GM soy-derived material was carrying a price tag of around $10-12 per kilo.
The European phytosterols market is starting to look rather crowded: according to a report from Frost and Sullivan, there were 25 companies active in this area in May, with the top three players - Cognis, ADM and Raisio (Raisio's plant stanols are included for the purpose of market analysis) - controlling 79 per cent of market share revenue between them.
Frost estimated the value of the European market to be US$184.6m in 2005, and expects it to increase by 114 per cent to US$395.2m) in 2012.