Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods has announced the completion of a $13 million production line at Rubtsovsk dairy plant. The dairy will produce Lamber, a new brand of hard cheese.
The completion of the production line means that Rubtsovsk Dairy Plant, situated in the Altai region of the country, is now one of the largest plants in Russia and the CIS in terms of production capacity for rennet cheese. The plant has the capacity to produce up to 15,000 tons of cheese per year.
Rubtsovsk Dairy Plant has been outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment produced by the European companies Alpma and Obram. Furthermore, WBD claims that Rubtsovsk is the first plant in Eastern Europe where cheese production process, from milk feed to packaging, is fully automated.
WBD plans to position Lamber cheese in the upper middle segment, where it will compete primarily with imported cheese and has the potential to become market leader, the company claims.
The company will launch an advertising campaign for the new brand on Russian national television in November 2003, aimed at promoting greater consumption of cheese. Currently per capita cheese consumption in Russia still remains a fraction of European consumption levels, meaning the company has much work to do to make the product popular.
"The launch of European quality hard cheese production is a major step for the company's ambitious plans in the cheese market," said Yuri Vlasenko, head of WBD Food's cheese project. "We are confident that consumers will be quickly won over by the Lamber brand due to its quality, taste and price.
"At Wimm-Bill-Dann, our aim is to fill a major gap in the Russian market for domestically produced high quality cheese at reasonable prices. We are using the latest equipment along with proven traditional cheese-making techniques and selected raw materials. Looking forward, we are examining the possibility of expanding the plant's capacity to meet future demand."
The company already has a leading position throughout the region in the yoghurt segment, which is historically a widely accepted staple throughout Russia. Cracking the cheese market, in a country where there is no real history of its consumption is going to be much more difficult, but if it proves successful the dividends will obviously be high.