Chr. Hansen has been present in Russia since 1998, but the addition of an application lab will allow it to work directly with local customers, using local ingredients. This is expected to be particularly useful for its recently introduced FreshQ starter culture for extending the shelf life of the popular Russian fresh cheese product, Tvorog.
Speaking with FoodNavigator, area country manager for Northern Europe Kristian Elsborg said that it was very important to use local milk supplies when testing new products and ingredients for any market, because of differences in milk quality as well as equipment.
“FreshQ is part of our bio-protection programme,” he said. “…The mode of action is not fully understood yet, but what we can see is that we can extend shelf life by weeks.”
He added: “Before we had and application lab, if we had an application question from a local customer, it would have been a challenge. Now we can test it with Russian milk. …Our response time is so much faster.”
About 60% of Chr. Hansen’s dairy customers in Russia are multinationals and about 40% are local companies, he said.
Demand for natural colours
Chr. Hansen said the move will also tap into desire for natural colours in Russia, as the country has opted to implement warning labels similar to those required in the European Union for the so-called ‘Southampton Six’ artificial colours from June next year. It expects a surge in interest for its natural colours as a result.
The new application centre will enable to company to run stability trials with natural colours in foods and beverages.
Chr. Hansen’s colour customers are roughly evenly split between local companies and multinationals, said Elsborg.
“The Russian customer base is changing,” he said. “The international customers are consolidating and getting bigger, and with that the demand on products and services is increasing. This leaves us with great business potential.”