Raisio prepares Asian entry with Benecol trial

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Raisio, Nutrition

A trial period of Raisio's Benecol ingredient could, if successful,
mark the first entry of the product onto the Asian market.

The Finnish firm confirmed it was working with Mumbai based nutraceutical company British Biologicals to test the potential of a full-scale launch. The trial so far consists of introducing a Benecol-containing nutritional powder to medical doctors as well as limited test marketing in some cities. A spokesperson said: "It is very important to first work with health professionals when launching a new product in an area for the first time." ​ India could become the gateway to further launches across Asia, should the trial be successful. Raisio is targeting Asia because it believes there is huge potential. "There is no other cholesterol lowering [food] products in Asia,"​ a spokesperson told NutraIngredients.com. The company also said there is a problem with high-cholesterol across Asia, and consumers have an interest in the potential of functional food in helping cut this. A powder containing Benecol has been selected for the trial as it is suitable for consumers eating habits. Raisio said powdered nutraceuticals, which can be added to water and drunk, are very popular in the country. The powder is a departure from food formats used elsewhere for the brand. Benecol in Europe for example is perhaps best known as an ingredient in margarine spreads. This move shows how sensitive Raisio is to consumer trends of different geographical areas. For the past year, Raisio has seen Asia as a market which could boost profitability. Company prop ​ The Finnish company has struggled to remain profitable in recent times. Its food division experienced a "deeply unprofitable"​ 2006, struggling to cope with price increases and major restructuring. Benecol has proven an important prop in keeping the company together, and is now sold in more than 20 countries worldwide. ​ Raisio has signed some important deals with its Benecol branded ingredient, which is based on plant stanols. Most importantly Raisio reached an agreement with its European and American partners to extend its rights to the cholesterol-lowering Benecol brand in France and the United States. In October, the firm said an amendment had been signed between McNeil Nutritionals in the States and Cilag GmbH International, which will put Raisio in the driving seat of Benecol and its plant stanol ester. Last month it reached an agreement to see the ingredient supplied to the Ecuadorian market through Industrias Lácteas Toni. In the same month Raisio signed a non-exclusive global rights to a number of plant sterol and stanol patents with Unilver, a move which will allow both companies to develop their business and applications and not worry about patent infringements. A date for a complete launch has not been set, and Raisio has not confirmed the length of the trial period. British Biologicals' product range includes nutritional powders designed for different target groups. In India, nutritional powders are premium products favoured by young, highly educated people, Raisio added.

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