World class sterol facility to Rauma

Press release by Forchem Oy

Forchem Oy, which specialises in the distillation and processing of crude tall oil, a byproduct of chemical wood pulping, will build a plant sterol facility in its Rauma production site. This would be one of the largest plant sterol processing units in the world.

Forchem’s high-technology tall oil plant went on stream only a couple of years ago, but the company has already been able to expand its production and develop many new innovative talloil-based products for the chemicals industry.

The production process planned for Rauma will separate beta sitosterol from tall oil. Beta sitosterol has been found to have very versatile health benefits, for example, in functional foods.

Once the project is implemented, the plant will produce some 4,000–6,000 tonnes of plant sterol annually. This would make it by far the largest unit in its field in Europe, and only one company with a similar capacity exists in the world. Value of the investment is 40 million euros (53 M USD) . The product will be marketed globally to the food industry and its suppliers. Plant sterols have been found to be very effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels. They decrease the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream, and thus the cholesterol level decreases. So far, sterols have mainly been used in edible fats and dairy products. However, recent studies have shown that sterols are also advantageous in fat-free products. For example, cholesterol level can be decreased by means of plant sterol added to orange juice.

Experts believe that many new plant sterol innovations will be developed in the near future. In 2003, the European plant sterol market was worth some 75 million dollars. The use of plant sterols is expected to increase by 15 percent annually by 2010.

For additional information, please contact:
Martti Fredrikson, President and CEO, tel. +358 50 3104 400