WBD upgrades Ukraine dairy for premium sales

Related tags Dairy products Pasteurization Milk

Russian dairy firm Wimm-Bill-Dann, under fire from rising costs,
has opened the door to longer life products and taken a step closer
to achieving greater export markets in the EU by further
modernising its milk processing plant in the Ukraine, reports
Chris Mercer.

The firm has installed a 720 metre-square dietetic products line at its Kiev City Dairy Plant No.3, which it says will improve product quality, extend product shelf-life and increase production volumes of pasteurised milk, drinkable yoghurts and cream.

As a result, WBD said it planned to produce new juice and milk products by taking advantage of the plant's new state-of-the-art technology, including a pasteurisation cooling unit with deodoriser and homogeniser as well as up-graded normalisation and fermentation tanks. Equipment has been provided by the Polish firm Mlekomat.

Tamara Homyshenko, the plant's chief technologist, said: "In particular, the new system for product cooling after ripening allows fast cooling of natural fermented dairy products, which means their organoleptic indicators [visible freshness] can be preserved for up to 14 days and their microbiological characteristics [eg; texture, appearance] can be improved."

WBD's latest investment, totalling around $2.7 million, is part of a programme to modernise the company's whole production base as it strives to meet world quality standards in its manufacture of dairy products.

More specifically, the firm's modernisation gives it an opportunity to progress further into more lucrative EU markets by meeting rigid EU quality standards. WBD became one of the first Russian dairy companies to receive an EU export license last September, issued for its Lianozovo factory.

And although the firm intended to concentrate on Lithuania and Latvia first, spokesperson Marina Kagan said: "In the future we are hoping to expand our exports to other, larger markets. Already we are in discussions with German retailers to supply typically Russian dairy products to the large Russian expatriate communities there."

However, Russia and the Ukraine continue to be WBD's largest markets and the firm also needs its modernisation programme to increase efficiency and produce more premium products for domestic consumers to offset rising raw materials costs.

WBD suffered a 10 per cent drop in net profits to $18.8 million for the first nine months of 2004 after coming under pressure from rising raw milk prices as well as increased transport, personnel and marketing costs. Group sales remained healthy, posting a 27 per cent rise to $869 million.

As part of the drive to control costs, the firm has also fitted the Kiev dairy plant with a new compressor station, which it says will significantly reduce energy costs as well as increase storage capacity for refrigerated dairy products at the factory.

WBD, Russia's leading dairy and juice manufacturer, currently owns 25 production facilities across Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The firm has a branded portfolio including more than 1,100 types of dairy products and 150 varieties of juice, nectars and still drinks.

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