Raisio has just launched its Benecol yogurt drinks line in Hong Kong, its latest push to broaden its reach in the emerging Bric markets. Wing Kee Produce will act as the Finnish company’s local distributor.
Out of its population of more than 7m people, more than 40% of Hong Kong’s adult population has elevated cholesterol levels. As a result, Benecol has identified a sizable market of consumers looking to reduce their cholesterol.
At the same time, Hong Kong still adheres to British and European standards, which makes it easier for the firm to enter the special administrative region than it normally would be for China entrants.
Its Benecol brand is still not available on the mainland, but the company says it is actively working to launch the product onto the Chinese market in the new future, and is currently discussing possibilities. A launch date is not yet on the horizon.
And another main advantage is that Hong Kong lacks the competitors Raisio is used to in its home markets.
The yoghurt drinks, which will be available in strawberry and blueberry flavours, are produced by dairy giant Emmi in Switzerland and will be available in major retail chains and department stores across the country.
For the time being, Raisio is focused on just distributing the Benecol yoghurt drinks in Hong Kong but Laavainen adds: "If all goes as planned, we will evaluate other options to widen the range in the future but now we are focusing on these two products."
“We will actively continue negotiations with new potential licence partners in order to launch Benecol products in new markets, especially in Asia and South America" said Mikko Laavainen, Benecol’s vice-president of business.
Europe is by far the biggest market for Raisio’s Benecol brand area in terms of sales, although the emerging markets—and especially the Brics—are where the company forecasts will be the source of its highest growth.
Such growth will be useful for a company that earlier this month announced its Benecol sales falling by 12.5% over the first-half of the year amid lower volumes in the United States, although sales continued to rise in markets like Chile, Indonesia and Ecuador.