Alpro is branching out into the functional foods market, launching a cholesterol-­lowering dairy-free milk from next month.

Alpro Soya Plus (rsp: £1.35/litre) is a soya milk with added plant sterols, which Alpro claims will ­reduce cholesterol by about 10% if it is consumed regularly.

The milk launches into Tesco stores at the end of February, with listings across the other multiples to be confirmed shortly.

The launch of Alpro Soya Plus marked the first time a soya product with functional food properties was introduced in the UK, said Alpro commercial director John Allaway.

"There is a large group of consumers who want to lower their cholesterol levels but who cannot or do not want to eat dairy. Flora pro.activ and Benecol have done a good job as far as cholesterol reduction is concerned, but we think there is certainly a gap in the market for a soya option."

According to the NHS, two out of three adults in the UK have high cholesterol, and between five and 15% of people claimed they had an intolerance to dairy, said Allaway. "That's potentially quite a sizeable market."

Alpro also believed the functional-food credentials of Alpro Soya Plus would attract new shoppers to the Alpro brand and was aiming for Alpro Soya Plus to become a "million-pound brand" in the medium term, he added.

The launch will initially be supported by loyalty card activity so as to specifically target shoppers looking for cholesterol-lowering products.

Alpro is also launching a dedicated website which will offer consumer advice on a variety of health topics.

There will not be any above-the-line activity for Alpro Soya Plus at this stage, although the main Alpro brand is being supported by a new national TV and press campaign running throughout January.

The Alpro brand was worth £65m in the 52 weeks to 30 October 2010, up 2% year-on-year [Nielsen MAT value sales].

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