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Russia aims to become biggest milk producer

One of the biggest Russian dairy producers, EcoNiva is on route to expand its herd of milk cows in order to become the world’s biggest raw milk manufacturer.

Sergey Lyahov, director of the Siberian branch of EcoNiva mentioned the expansion, speaking at a press-conference during the Siberian Agriculture forum in the city of Barnaul late October.

As of today, the company owns 89,000 milk cows, Lyahov said. In the first half of 2020, this figure is slated to reach 100,000 heads, he added.

In 2019, EcoNiva is the fifth world’s biggest raw milk manufacturer, Stefan Durr, owner of Econiva said during the same press conference. The first place in this list belongs to China Modern Dairy, the design production capacity of which is 3,200 tonnes of raw milk per day.

Photo: Mark Pasveer
Photo: Mark Pasveer

The upcoming business expansion would make EcoNiva the world’s biggest production already in 2020, Durr said, adding that it was clear that the additional production quantities would require establishing of some major processing capacities.

EcoNiva targets to build four dairy plants in Russia until 2024, with the overall investment cost of some Rub93 billion ($1.5 billion), including three cheese plants and one food plant. Three plants would be located in European Russia, including one in Moscow Oblast, and another one – in Siberia.

Siberian expansion

The Siberian cheese plant is slated to become operational in 2021, said Lyahov. There is some delay in construction associated with some changes EcoNiva had to make in the production scheme at the time when the construction had already started, he explained.

The plant will use 1,000 tonnes of raw milk to manufacture cheese per year, with 20% to 30% of products the company hopes to exports to China and South East Asia, Lyahov added.

Econiva already runs three milk farms in Siberia, but to meet the requirements of the new plant, the herd needs to be tripled. As of today, the company has 13,500 milk cows in Siberia, and by 2023, 7 new farms will be built in the region to boost this figure to 40,000 cows, according to Lyahov.

The project is called to improve self-sufficiency of the Siberian region in high-quality dairy production, as most milk-processing plants in the country are located in European Russia.

Production is on the rise

In the first half of 2019, EcoNiva boosted production to 352,000 tonnes, or by 68% as compared to the same period of the previous year, the company said in a statement. The company said that it was expecting to manufacture 800,000 tonnes in 2019. In 2018 the company produced 484,000 tonnes of milk. EcoNiva operates a land bank of 600,000 ha in different parts of Russia.