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If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

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In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Functional Nondairy Makes Europe Healthier

You'd think that milk was already plenty darn functional, what with all those vitamins and minerals it contains. But sales of liquid milk have been falling for years, both in the U.S. and the U.K.

So dairies are looking for ways to make milk more functional. In fact, today "functional" drinks have a whole new definition: they are drinks that have had sterols added that supposedly actively lower cholesterol counts. A long article at details the growing U.K. market for such products.

Tesco for example has launched functional milk under its private label whilst Pepsico has added a novel functional juice to its Tropicana range. Like soy drinks, the new functional drinks contain sterols that actively lower cholesterol levels.

Soy drinks were originally bought by consumers suffering from lactose intolerance. But scientific evidence linking soy consumption to lower incidence of heart disease has allowed manufacturers to market soy drinks as functional beverages.

These beverages are very popular in the UK where up to two-thirds of the population have high cholesterol levels. Chilled soymilk is the fastest growing segment with sales expanding by over 20 per cent a year.

The popularity of soymilk led Unilever to launch a competing functional milk product in 2004. Fortified with plant sterols, Flora Pro Activ also actively lowers cholesterol.

It is positioned alongside chilled soymilk in supermarkets and is targeted at consumers who are health-conscious but do not like the taste of soy.

Tesco's new functional milk drink is targeted at the same consumer segment. Its cholesterol-lowering milk is fortified with Reducol, a plant sterol.

The functional ingredient is derived from forestry by-products and is guaranteed GM-free. The new milk is part of a cholesterol-lowering dairy product range marketed under the Tesco brand.

Pepsico is also looking to capitalise on growing demand for functional beverages by launching a fortified juice drink under the Tropicana brand. The orange juice is fortified with Benecol, a stanol-ester ingredient that actively lowers cholesterol.

The novel orange juice is also targeted at health-conscious consumers.

Alpro's Soya & Fruity is believed to have influenced the launch of the new Tropicana functional juice. Alpro launched Soya & Fruity as a fortified blend of soymilk and fruit juices in June 2005. It has been, until now, the only cholesterol-lowering juice drink in the UK.

With increased investment in the dairy alternatives industry, consumers are likely to see more soy functional beverages. The latest new entrant is Danone, which could launch soy products in the UK if its Senji yoghurts are successful in France.

ABN Amro's investment in Nutrition & Soja could lead to some new soy drinks to be launched in the UK. In February, the company extended its soy drink flavours to include chai and mocha.

Organic Monitor therefore concludes that functional beverages may be the way forward.

Haven't heard of Reducol? Neither had I. A quick search, though, showqs that Reducol, from Forbes Medi-Tech, Inc., is "a unique ingredient containing plant sterols and stanols, commonly known as phytosterols, or 'sterols'."

Kesko, Finland's largest grocery chain, has launched a line of yogurts containing Reducol, called Pirkka, and a new lactose-free margarine.

Functional margarines already exist, from brands like Benecol, which also came out of Finland, and Flora Pro-Activ.

Reducol dairy products don't appear to have hit the U.S. market yet, but the success of Benecol – which is now is 30 countries, including the U.S. – means that they probably can't be far off.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Benecol –the cholesterol-lowering ingredient – has received the 2006 Frost and Sullivan Award for Brand Development Strategy Leadership. Benecol received the award for demonstrating superior market growth skills through a combination of a unique product based on plant stanol ester, quality and communication strategies. The success of the brand was also attributed to the way Raisio Benecol has helped its food industry partners work collaboratively for the benefit of the Benecol brand both locally and globally.

The brand was developed and introduced year 1994 by MBA Jussi Hirvelä, who was on those days responsible for the commercialisation of the plant stanol innovation. Jussi Hirvelä did the comprehensive branding strategy for the global markets as well. Unfortunately the head of the company (Raisio) didn’t believe in young Hirvelä’s strategic wisdom and insight. The time has shown that they should have been.

I was listening Jussi Hirvelä having his presentation at Helsinki Future Food Seminar year 1996. He described his Benecol strategy briefly and the basic idea was to enter the global markets through licensing the use of Benecol ingredient to companies like General Foods, Kraft and Nabisco. But Raisio decided to start the co-operation with a medicine company and we all know the results. Now the company has started to follow the original Hirvelä’s strategy, but 10 years too late.

It is unfortunate for Raisio that they lost Hirvelä, known as a marketing wizard of the Finnish food industry.