Russia-based Wimm-Bill-Dann has announced the opening of what it calls a $12m mega dairy farm outside of St. Petersburg as part of a wider focus on stepping up the supply of high quality milk for its operations.
The company says the new site is one of the most technically advanced livestock farms in the country, with room for 1,200 Holstein milking cows.
The farm, which has been constructed on the Trud collective farm acquired by the group in 2005, will form part of a company-wide strategy to boost national agricultural production in order to benefit raw material supply.
With the margins of a growing number of dairy processors being put under pressure from current high commodity costs for products like milk, processors are being forced to find news ways of collecting ingredients.
It is in this climate that Wimm-Bill-Dann hopes to ensure the highest quality throughout its production cycle, from raw materials up to the final product itself.
To meet its quality ambitions, the company says it has worked with the Sweden-based DeLaval company to provide equipment at the farm, including computer systems for monitoring animal health.
The company claims in addition that livestock at the farm will be kept in free stalls, which it expects will boost productivity rates at the site to of 8,500 kilograms of high-quality milk per forage cow.
Construction of the farm was supported by the Russian federal and regional governments, which are hoping to encourage greater development within the country's agricultural sector.
In supporting this livestock focus, Wimm Bill Dann says that it has three other projects in the works.
These include the ongoing building of a 2,700 cow farm in the Krasnodar Region, as well as the reconstruction of two existing sites in the Kuban.
Combined investment for the project amounts to $40m, the company says.
The focus on milk production reflects the growing significance to the group of its dairy operations.
In recent years Wimm-Bill-Dann has been keen to step up pressure on its rivals within the country's burgeoning dairy market. Its sales in the segment rose 31.6 per cent in 2006 to €991m, more than double the combined sales of its infant nutrition and soft drinks brands.