The company, Finland’s largest dairy manufacturer, announced last month that it has doubled quark production at its plant in Seinäjoki at the cost of around €11m ($15m). The new production line will ensure that its supply of quark “does not run out” over Easter, it claimed.
Valio markets a wide range of plain and flavoured quark products under its Alma brand. After Christmas, Easter provides the highest peak in sales of dairy products for Valio. Demand for quark is particularly high during this period as it is used in many traditional Easter treats, including pasha and quark pie.
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Anne Hänninen, brand manager at Valio, said that as a result of its investment at Seinäjoki the company does not expect a repeat of Easter 2013 when Finnish retailers experienced a quark shortage.
“With our doubled production capacity we can meet the demand of quark in all our markets. There will be no shortage of quark this year,” she said.
“If the demand is as huge as last year, maybe without this investment the demand for quark would have exceeded our production capacity during Easter time.”
She added that the company has fine-tuned its supply practices in anticipation.
“Since Easter is high-season for quark, we have paid special attention to all parts of our order-delivery chain in order to be ready for the high volumes of peak days in deliveries,” said Hänninen.
Quark export demand
Increasing demand for high-protein products such as quark - both in Finland and abroad - also factored in to Valio’s decision to expand production at Seinäjoki.
Valio products accounted for around 95% of all Finnish dairy exports in 2013. The company believes that the investment will “lay a foundation” for growth from Swedish and Russian consumers, as well as ensure “the protection of quark volumes” in Finland.
“Valio quark in the Russian market is growing heavily,” said Hänninen.
She added that the Valio is launching new quark products in Russia and neighboring Sweden next month.
Valio will now begin stage two of its investment at Seinäjoki. This €25m ($34m) phase will see the construction of a new storage centre. The build is scheduled for completion in 2015.