Finnish food group Raisio has today (4 September) launched its Benecol yoghurt drinks in Hong Kong, as part of efforts to expand in the BRIC countries.

Raisio said it will hold joint responsibility for business operations with local Benecol product distributor, Wing Kee Produce. The yoghurt drinks will be produced by Swiss dairy giant Emmi. 

Mikko Laavainen, vice president of Raisio’s licensed brands, which holds responsibility for Benecol business, said: “We see Asia as an important future market area for Benecol products and the Hong Kong launch offers a great opportunity to develop Benecol business in this region.

“We will actively continue negotiations with new potential license partners in order to launch Benecol products in new markets especially in Asia and South America.”

Benecol yogurt drinks will be available in major retail chains and department stores in Hong Kong. 

Earlier this month, Raisio said its Benecol sales fell 12.5% in the first half of the year amid lower volumes in the US. However, the company said sales were up in markets like Chile, Indonesia and Ecuador.

In an interview with just-food, Raisio CEO Matti Rihko was confident about the prospects for Benecol in Asia and Latin America.

“The markets are still very small, the cholesterol-lowering categories are emerging but I think still those markets are pretty exciting,” he said.

Click here for our follow-up interview with Mikko Laavainen on the Hong Kong launch and on Raisio’s ambitions in emerging markets for Benecol.