Raisio’s Research and Development program further developed a medical use of a byproduct of pine-wood pulp or stanol ester. Raisio had found a unique way of processing the plant stanol which allowed it to become refined and fat-soluble. They studied it further and found it to have a profound cholesterol-reducing effect when consumed. The findings were published in New England Journal of Medicine in November 1995; “after a 14-month trial, a daily intake of 25 grams reduces total cholesterol in the bloodstream by 10% and the level of more harmful LDL cholesterol by 14%” (Grant, 2010, p. 658). Raisio then combined the refined plant stanol with the margarine product they were already producing and launched a new product, Benecol. (Grant, 2010).
Raisio’s initial strategy during the launch of Benecol was to first file for several protective patents to try and stay ahead of potential competition; form a separate special division devoted only to Benecol production and international marketing; while opening additional plants in hopes of meeting the projected consumer demand on a global scale. Staying ahead of competition was vitally important because a number of competing products and pharmaceutical drugs, as well as other known natural food products were already on the market with similar cholesterol-reducing effects. Cholesterol reducing products were in high demand and shifting from a growth stage to a more mature stage in the industries life-cycle. Not to mention; “the effect of plant sterols in lowering human cholesterol levels has been known since the 1950’s” (Grant, 2010, p. 659).
Benecol was seen as having huge international potential so a separate division was deemed necessary in order to become completely devoted to marketing strategies, distribution policies and other international regulations and laws for food products, “especially those that included additives claiming to have health benefits” (Grant, 2010, p. 661). No one company other...
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