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A cholesterol-lowering bread product will this month hit the shelves of Romania, marking efforts by Finland’s Raisio to expand its Benecol brand into a wider range of food applications, according to

Raisio will be teaming up with the Romanian bakery firm Doprogea Grup for the new launch, making it the first cholesterol-lowering food product in the country, according to the report.

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 GBP500 million (NZ$752 million). Last month, the company said that sales for Benecol reached GBP13 million in the first quarter of this year, marking a 12% 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 Thailand and India “have developed well”, according to the company. It will be looking at new product applications for Benecol, as well as on the development of oat-, soy- and barley-based products.

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 report said.

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 states: “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, according to the report.


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