Raisio, which is teaming up with the Romanian bakery firm Doprogea Grup for the new launch, said this will be the first cholesterol-lowering food product in the country.
The groups said the launch will be accompanied by extensive media campaigns, which they hope will help open up a new market for cholesterol-lowering products in Romania and raise awareness for the Benecol brand.
New applications, new markets
In Western Europe, Benecol has carved out a place for itself as a leader in the market for cholesterol-lowering spreads, which is thought to be worth over €500m. Last month, the company said that sales for Benecol reached €13m in the first quarter of this year, marking a 12 per cent increase on last year.
Benecol products had shown the best growth in Spain, Greece and Belgium, with sales levelling out in Poland and Great Britain. Recent launches in Thaliand and India “have developed well”, said the firm in its Q1 update. It said that its focus moving forward will be “on the new product applications” for Benecol, as well as on the “development of oat-, soy- and barley-based products”.
Raisio said that Romanian consumers are becoming increasingly interested in healthy nutrition, and are particularly starting to opt for nutritional approaches in the prevention of heart disease.
The firm said it is adjusting its approach to appeal to local purchasing habits in different markets. “The Benecol bread on the Romanian market is a good example. Raisio will continue the preparation work with its local partners to launch new products on new markets.”
Benecol is one of the few ingredients so far to have received a health claim approval under Europe’s new nutrition and health claims regulation.
The claim was written into European Union legislature last year and sates: “Plant stanol/sterol esters have been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease.”
However, this claim can only be used on spreads, mayonnaise, salad dressings and dairy products with 2g consumption per day. It cannot be used on food supplements or other food groups.
A more general claim that sterol/stanol consumption can be beneficial can however be utilised by food supplements and other foodstuffs, and can be found here .