6 Sep 2019 18:51

Valio boosts investment in plant in Russia to 70 mln euros, launches new production line

MOSCOW. Sept 5 (Interfax) - Finland's Valio has launched a new processed-cheese production line at its plant in Yershovo in the Moscow region, its only site in Russia.

The new line is the plant's ninth. Its maximum capacity is 50 packages per minute. It is expected to produce over three tonnes of cheese per shift, Valio said.

Investment in the plant now totals 70 million euros, up from 67 million.

It was built in 2006 and produces Viola processed cheese, in addition to slicing and packaging yellow cheeses (Syrnaya Kollektsia, Oltermani, Valio).

Its turnover in Russia rose 11% in 2018, to 6.9 billion rubles, the company said earlier. It is expecting positive results this year.

Despite the food embargo, which forced Valio to limit its exports to Russia, its Russian business is showing one of the company's highest profitability indicators. "Valio in Russia is one of our company's five subsidiaries, and in recent years it was among the best in terms of profitability," said the head of Valio, Annika Hurme.

"Since the food embargo was introduced, Valio has been actively developing its local production, which has now been set up not only at this plant, but also at seven contracted sites, where products are made under our brand by order and under the company's supervision. We're continuing to develop," said Kari Finska, the head of the company's Russian division.

At the end of 2018, Valio launched a facility producing butter at a partner site in the Moscow region; the company had stopped supplying butter under its brand after the introduction of the embargo in August 2014. Until then, Valio's butter accounted for as much as a quarter of the St. Petersburg market and more than 14% of Moscow's.

"Products aren't returning at the same time, though we've already retaken the lead in certain categories," especially in the processed cheese segment, where Viola is the leader in both natural and monetary terms in St. Petersburg and Moscow.