RAISIO, FINLAND — Raisio P.L.C., a food and functional food ingredients provider, has partnered with Romanian bakery company Doprogea Grup to launch a cholesterol-lowering bread under the Benecol brand. According to Raisio, the bread will be the first cholesterol-lowering food product launched in Romania.

“The launch in Romania will increase the awareness and visibility of the Benecol brand in Eastern Europe,” Raisio said. “Raisio’s strength is in the ability to adjust, together with its partners, to local inhabitants’ purchasing behavior and in launching Benecol products suitably applied to the markets in question. 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, whose active ingredients are plant stanol esters, is a global trademark owned by Raisio. Plant stanol esters are one of the few ingredients to have received approval from the European Union to be used as a health claim.

In a May 4 trading update, the company said net sales of Benecol in the January-March period reached €13 million, up 12% from the first quarter of last year. Raisio attributed the sales gains to volume growth in current markets and launches in new markets. Specifically, the company cited solid sales growth of Benecol products in Spain, Greece and Belgium, while strong growth in Poland and Great Britain evened out.

Thailand and Indonesia are fairly new markets, Raisio said, and as such sales of Benecol products in those countries have developed well considering the time needed for the launching and creating the awareness of products and brand.