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EkoNiva breaks its record in raw milk production

Press-centre / News,

EkoNiva Group, the largest Russian dairy holding, has published operating results for 2023 relating to its core business segments: dairy farming, milk processing and crop growing.

Dairy farming

In 2023, EkoNiva produced 1.26 million tonnes of raw milk in physical weight, beating its previous year’s record by 65,500 tonnes (2022: 1.19 million tonnes). The gross yield of energy corrected milk (3.7% fat, 3.2% protein) totalled 1.31 million tonnes (2022: 1.25 million tonnes). The Group remains the only producer in Russia to pass the milestone of 1 million tonnes of raw milk per year. During 2023, average milk yields at the Group’s facilities equalled 105,000 tonnes per month. The mean output over the reporting period reached 3,440 tonnes (2022: 3,261 tonnes). The yield per dairy cow over the reporting period rose from 29.3 kg to 30.6 kg of raw milk in physical weight and from 30.7 kg to 32.0 kg of energy corrected milk.

The increase in animal performance of EkoNiva Group can be attributed to the herd structure optimisation, proper ration formulation and continuous work on improving the feed efficiency. The team of qualified specialists is another key driver of high production performance. The acquired competences in dairy farming, ongoing training and experience exchange within the Group and in the professional community enable EkoNiva to achieve outstanding results.

In the reporting period, the mean cattle herd size on all EkoNiva’s farms totalled more than 235,300 head (2022: 222,800 head; +5.6%), including over 112,500 dairy cows (+1.1%). In October 2023, the Group commissioned Bortnikovo dairy farm in Stupino district, Moscow oblast. The project is designed for 3,550 milking cows and 5,100 head of young stock. The farm’s production capacity is 34,000 tonnes of raw milk per year.

Milk processing

Over January-December 2023, EkoNiva’s processing facilities manufactured 279,500 tonnes of finished dairy produce, which is a 70% increase compared to the previous reporting period (2022: 164,000 tonnes). In particular, the production of drinking milk and traditional dairy items (cream, kefir, sour cream, curds, butter, etc.) rose by 68% year-on-year to 265,000 tonnes (2022: 158,000 tonnes), yoghurt and dessert group (including ice cream) – by 41% to 6,200 tonnes (2022: 4,400 tonnes), cheese – 7-fold and topped 8,300 tonnes (2022: 1,200 tonnes). At the end of the reporting period, the range of produce under the EKONIVA brand included 88 SKUs (2022: 79).

The growth of the production volume resulted from improved operational efficiency of the Group’s processing plants, which enabled the Group to maximise their capacities. In the first half-year 2023, EkoNiva also launched the production of several types of semi-hard cheese at the partners’ plants due to the increased demand for this cheese type. This allowed the Group to use the full capacity of Shchuchye cheese plant to produce premium hard cheeses under its own brand.

EkoNiva’s dairy produce is available for purchase in 70 regions of Russia. The total number of outlets increased by more than 1.5 times over the year to 60,800 by the end of the reporting period (31 December 2022: 39,300). The Group’s products are sold in most federal retail chains, including Magnit, Lenta, Perekryostok, Pyatyorochka, Globus, O’KEY, Auchan and Metro. In 2023, EkoNiva continued expanding its own retail business by opening over 20 branded stores. By the end of 2023, the Group operated a total of 76 own brand stores.

The Group continues manufacturing the produce under private labels. The share of such products makes up about 25% of EkoNiva’s total turnover.

Crop growing and sugar production

The 2022-2023 agricultural season was rated by the Group as successful despite the delayed harvest in Voronezh and Ryazan oblasts. From an area of more than 250,000 hectares, the Group reaped 1.33 million tonnes of cash crops in standard weight (2022: 1.18 million tonnes, +13%), namely 690,000 tonnes of cereals, 140,000 tonnes of pulses, 62,600 tonnes of oilseed crops and 440,000 tonnes of sugar beet.

In the reporting period, the Group increased the area under forage crops compared to 2022. As a result, 985,000 tonnes in dry matter (DM) were harvested from 174,000 hectares compared to 831,000 tonnes a year earlier (+19%). In August 2023, the sowing campaign for the 2024 winter crops started as planned. Approx. 69,000 hectares was allocated for winter crops.

In September 2023, EkoNiva Group relaunched its sugar plant Belsakhar in Kursk oblast. The daily processing capacity of the plant is up to 2,050 tonnes of raw material, which makes for producing 300 tonnes of sugar of TS-2 and TS-3 categories per day. Currently, the sugar beets from the company’s own fields are being processed at the plant. The enterprise also accepted sugar beets from other local farmers. The sugar refining season at the plant is scheduled to be completed by the end of January 2024.