The Cognis Group, a leader in antioxidant and botanical ingredients, announced recently that it is near to completing construction of the world's largest stand-alone manufacturing facility for phytosterols. The plant, which uses Cognis proprietary technology, is being built to food Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards at Cognis' Boussens location near Toulouse, France. With a capacity of 1,600 metric tons per year, the site is scheduled to start up in January 2002. "We at Cognis are optimistic about the growth potential for plant-derived sterols because of the benefits they provide in food, pharmaceuticals and dietary supplement applications," said Paul Allen, Vice President, Cognis Nutrition and Health. "We have already developed a strong market position with the sterols produced at our facility in Kankakee, Illinois and this additional new capacity in the important European market will significantly strengthen our global leadership position," he said. The cost of the plant was not disclosed but Business Director, Steve Frandsen stressed that Cognis had been working closely with customers during the construction of the new plant and that he expects an aggressive sales launch early next year. Cognis has marketed its product Generol® phytosterols for 50 years. Applications include intermediates for pharmaceuticals and as functional ingredients for food and dietary supplements.