2 Feb 2023 11:41

Russian dairy industry has enough reserves of raw material, ingredients, incl. starter cultures - ministry

MOSCOW. Feb 2 (Interfax) - Russia's dairy industry is currently fully supplied with raw materials and ingredients for production, including starter cultures, the Agriculture Ministry said.

"Russian dairy companies currently have sufficient reserves of the necessary raw materials and ingredients, including bacterial cultures. And their shipment to Russia is continuing. Furthermore, systematic work aimed at stimulating domestic production of food ingredients is being done to supply the needs of the sector," the ministry said in a statement.

A number of major investment projects to set up high-tech production of bacterial cultures are now being implemented in Russia, the ministry recalled. They include a biological plant in Yaroslavl Region, construction of which began last year; it is expected to have capacity to make 160 tonnes of product per year. Another biological plant will be built in Moscow Region.

The project in Yaroslavl Region is being carried out by AgriVolga, a company controlled by businessman Sergei Bachin.

Bachin said in an interview with RBC on Thursday that dependence on imported cultures is a key concern for makers of dairy products. This refers foremost to starter cultures - microbiological components that cause fermentation and are needed to produce fermented milk products and cheese.

"Right now 90% of our market is imported cultures. We simply don't have biological plants for their production. There's an experimental biological plant in Uglich and small labs that are trying to do this. But they cover no more than 10%, and actually even less of the total amount of cultures that are needed," Bachin said.

He also said that in 2025 AgriVolga plans to launch a biological plant to supply Russia's dairy industry with domestic cultures. "The plant should start up in two years. This is a serious high-tech enterprise - the first phase of production alone will be able to cover 25% of the market's culture needs," Bachin said. In the second phase, the plant's capacity is expected to increase to "around 50% of the Russian market's needs," he said. Investment in the first phase will total about 3.5 billion rubles, he estimated.

An agreement on the implementation of this project was signed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last year.

The Russian market for starter cultures for the dairy industry totalled about 744 tonnes or 4.3 billion rubles in 2021, experts estimated.