The launch of Benecol , its cholesterol-lowing margarine , at the end of 1995 had attracted the interest of food processors and supermarket groups throughout the world and fueled a surge of investor interest .
Demand for the product had outstripped Raisio's capability to produce the active ingredient in Benecol , stanol ester .
On the Helsinki stock market , foreign demand pushed Raisio's share price from FIM61 at the beginning of the year to FIM 288 at the end (after touching FIM322 during the summer ).
CEO Matti salminen commented :
1996 will go down in the Raisio Group's history as the Benecol year such was the role of this new cholesterol-reducing margarine in increasing the Group's visibility and raising its profile in all our sectors of operations.
Although we have not been able to meet even the domestic demand for Benecol margarine so far , the product is already known worldwide and great expectations are attached to it .
The Benecol phenomenon quintupled the value of our shares , increasing the Group's capitalization by billions of Finnish marks .
It was the international prospects for Benecol margarine (and potentially other food products incorporating stanol ester ) that had drawn a bevy of stock analysts and portfolio managers to Raisio's headquarters .
Not only was the potential market for Benecol considered huge the US alone was seen as having a multi-billion market potential but the profit opportunities also appeared excellent .
In Finland , Benecol was selling at about six times the price of regular margarine .
In addition to being first to market , Raisio ' had the ability to sustain its market leadership through its patents relating to the production and use of the active ingredient ,