Benecol targets overweight Indonesians

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Southeast asia, Nutrition

Raisio has entered its second Asian market by launching Benecol, in Indonesia, as it makes Asia a “region of focus” for its cholesterol-lowering brand.

Raisio has partnered with Indonesia’s and south east Asia’s largest listed company operating in the nutrition and pharmaceutical sector, Kalbe Nutritionals, to debut a cholesterol-lowering smoothie in major Indonesian cities.

Kalbe recorded turnover of €560m in 2007.

The smoothie will feature in Kalbe’s new Nutrive health brand and incorporate a dose of its Benecol plant stanol in sufficient proportions to allow it to make an on-pack cholesterol-lowering claim, which has been officially approved, it said.

Middle class obese

Nutrive will come in two flavours and target Indonesia’s growing urban middle class. It is thought about 20 per cent of its 220m population enjoy a high standard of living.

The launch follows a deal made in February with Indian supplements manufacturer and distributor, British Biologicals, that placed a​stanol supplement, Colred-Benecol, on-market there.

Raisio communications manager, Heidi Hirvonen, said there was greater demand for cholesterol-lowering products in Indonesia and other parts of Asia as consumers adopted western lifestyles and dietary habits.

“Obesity rates are rising in many parts of Asia and Indonesia is no exception – especially in the cities,”​ Hirvonen told NutraIngredients.com. “Nutrive is a new health brand for Kalbe and so they were keen to get involved with us because of our worldwide healthy image.”

She said Asia was a focus area for the Finnish ingredients and end-products company that turned over €422m in 2007.

The company is working with, and seeking out, local partners in other Asian markets to develop other products, she said.

Raisio chief executive officer, Matti Rihko, said the new deal demonstrated the company’s flexibility and ability to work with “strong local partners”.

"As has been seen in many countries, the sales of Benecol products increase when the partner focuses on developing the entire market for cholesterol-lowering functional foods and introduces new, interesting products and applications to the market,"​ he said.

India

Raisio also entered the Indian market in February this year, after working with British Biologicals and the Indian Health Department to have a cholesterol-lowering claim approved.

Hirvonen said no figures were available for the product but noted “it takes time to launch products on new markets.”

“But we are encouraged by what we have heard from our partner there.”

British Biologicals, established in Mumbai in 1988, distributes the product in 20,000 outlets including pharmacies, health food stores, supermarkets and general stores in major Indian cities.

Raisio has also been in discussions with food and beverage manufacturers there and has been investigating options in the Chinese market.

Its focus on Asia comes amid a difficult period that has seen sales fall in its ingredient division, and sales of Benecol end-products that include yoghurts, yoghurt drinks and spreads stagnating in many European markets as well as North America.

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