Raisio starts production of non-dairy range

Related tags Soy Nutrition Norway

Finland's Raisio group will start production of oat- and soy-based
fresh foods as it moves to expand its functional food business.

The company currently markets a line of soy and oat-based drinks in Finland under the Beneviva range made by an outside manufacturer.

But following the sale of its chemicals business last year - its most profitable unit - Raisio needs to find added value products to generate growth.

Healthy foods and new functional food ingredients have been slated for development to increase revenue.

Raisio will invest some €5 million in a new production plant rented from Valio, emploing 15-20 people. The group currently employs around 1,500.

It already uses soy in several finished products, including animal feed, but the new products will aim to capitalise increasing consumption of soy foods, growing in some countries by 25 per cent annually.

Soy beverages have seen phenomenal growth in Europe, driven by soy's association with health benefits, including a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease and hormone-related cancers, as well as good penetration in mainstream retail channels.

The UK is the biggest and most established European market for soyfoods but the Nordic countries are seeing growth of around 9 per cent, according to market analysts Organic Monitor, and tend to see more innovation.

The region is also home to the Oatly, the leading brand for oat drinks worldwide, and responsible for making oat drinks the preferred dairy substitute in Sweden, the only country where oat drinks are more popular than soy.

Raisio says its new products will be on the market at the beginning of 2006 although it has not finalized details regarding which brand they will be marketed under.

The products will first launch on the home market and will be expected to improve performance at its nutrition unit, hit by declining volumes for its margarine business.

Turnover at the unit fell 9 per cent over the first nine-months of 2004 to €89 million, with high soy prices and freight charges also impacting its milling business.

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