Sterol giants target US bread market

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Low-density lipoprotein, Cholesterol

Cognis and Cargill have simultaneously launched products on the US bread market by inking deals with mainstream companies that saw clinically-backed, cholesterol-lowering, sterol-imbued breads rolled out in various parts of the country yesterday.

Cargill’s CoroWise sterol ingredient has been incorporated into Kroger’s Active Lifestyle range that includes Honey Oat with Whole Grain and 100% Whole Wheat varieties and is available in mid-western and southern states.

Cognis’s Heart Choice sterol is used in a new George Weston Bakeries healthy bread range called Grains & More that appears under the Arnold and Brownberry brands. The product is called Double Oat Hearty Oatmeal Bread.

Communication

“In quantitative testing, we found that reducing cholesterol is one of the top five health benefits consumers prefer when purchasing bread,”​ said Jennifer Hartley, business director of the Arnold and Brownberry brands. She said the products would include the Heart Choice logo on the package because it “enables stronger communication of the sterol content and helps differentiate the product on the store shelf.”

Cargill’s CoroWise ingredient already appears in a bread called Oroweat Whole Grain & Oat that is found mainly in western states, while Cognis’ Heart Choice is present in a German rye bread.

Both products contain 0.4g of plant sterols.

No retail figures were available to determine what premium pricing levels were in existence, if any. Cognis marketing manager for Heart Choice, Laura Troha, said fortification at that level could be achieved for a couple of cents per serving, in this case a slice of bread.

“There are few ingredients that can deliver a clinically-backed effect at that price,” ​Troha told NutraIngredients-USA.com. “In addition, the versatility of the ingredient means it can be easily incorporated into bread. George Weston chose Cognis because of our Heart Choice program and the fact we are the world’s largest sterol ester supplier.”

The two products, like most sterol foods and beverages, are aimed at consumers concerned with controlling their cholesterol levels as well those who may consume them as a compliment to taking statin drugs.

Both products are able to employ the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unqualified health claim that states consumption of sterol-imbued products "may reduce the risk of heart disease", a claim that can be used​ if products contain 0.65g of sterol esters or 0.4g of free phytosterols.

Clinical data indicates cholesterol levels can be reduced by between 8 and 15 per cent if these servings can be consumed twice daily.

A US National Institutes of Health expert panel has recommended those with high LDL cholesterol consume 2g per day of sterols, along with eating more soluble fiber, cutting saturated fat and increasing exercise.

Is there brass in bread?

The bread launches come as many sterol foods such as spreads, milks and juices struggle to sell beyond niche levels, a fact Troha put down to the relative infancy of the market.

“This is a market that is still finding the best way to convey the benefits of these products,”​ Troha said. “Part of it is setting consumer expectations at the right level, that they are about secondary rather than primary care, and this is evolving.”

In addition to Weston’s own promotional campaign that included print and point of sale materials, Cognis had upped its support of Heart Choice with print advertising of its own in consumer titles like Body and Soul ​as well as building its online presence via the dedicated Heart Choice website.

Cargill actively promotes its CoroWise ingredient in a similar fashion.

The Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) reveals there were 72 sterol-containing food and beverage launches in 2007 with 27 in North America, 25 in the Asia Pacific and 18 in Europe.

In 2006, there were 45 products launched in Europe, only three in the Asia Pacific and 18 in North America, for a total of 67 globally.

In 2003, there were only six products debuted globally.

Related topics: Markets

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