Finnish food group Raisio has announced a jump in full-year profits and sales thanks to its acquisition of the consumer product business Benecol.

Raisio’s earnings before income tax (EBIT) grew from €6.9M in 2014 to €42.4M in 2015, Just-Food reported on 15 February. Once adjusted, excluding the effect of one-off items, EBIT rose to €51.7M from €34.8M.

Matti Rihko, Raisio’s group CEO, said the acquisition of Benecol was a key factor in the profit improvement. Raisio acquired Benecol in November 2014. The company increased its marketing efforts in the UK, the largest market for Benecol products, and product sales there turned into organic growth.

Raisio is one of six major players in the plant sterols and stanols sector, which launched the International Plant Sterols and Stanols Association late last year.

Plant sterols are found in plant-based foods such as vegetable oils, grains, nuts and seeds and are added to food products such as spreads, yoghurt-style drinks and cereals to block the body’s absorption of cholesterol.