Tall oil pitch with high sterol content (TOPS) is presently the only feasible new source of sterols. This is due to the food industry moving away from the high-pressure steam distillation of plant-based sterols because of the trans-fats generated in the process.
Sterols are used in functional foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics and in the pharmaceutical industry. In pharmaceuticals the sterols are a versatile raw material. Tall oil pitch contains a multitude of valuable and useful chemicals.
The market for sterols is estimated to grow rapidly in the coming years, with tall oil sterols leading the growth.