What do you have for dinner, dear readers? A tasty vegetable salad with aromatic oil and your favorite cookies for dessert? That’s likely. And now a trick question: do you know how much effort is poured into every drop inside the products we all take for granted? The Saratov factory was set up soon after the end of the Great Patriotic War, almost simultaneously with Leninsky district of Saratov; now the plant is probably the most well-known food company in the city and the flagship oil and fats production site for the RUSAGRO Group, the largest vertically integrated agricultural group in Russia and one of the fastest growing players at the CIS and global consumer markets.
The Saratov factory has long since become the heart of margarine production and an anchor company for the Russian fats and oil industry. It’s the origin of SOLPRO – the first Russian brand of industrial-grade fats and margarines intended for bakeries, confectioneries and dairy factories. Today, SJCs are universal and special margarines, confectionery fats and whipping pastes – in short, everything that confectioners and cooks need for professional happiness. All production competencies and expertise are also concentrated here. Needless to say, such a powerful infrastructure was not formed immediately.
…On the place where the Saratov Fat Combine is located now, vegetables were grown a long time ago. But not such a prosaic fate was destined for the land plots. In the first post-war year, the USSR Council of Ministers decided to build a fat factory on this site. It was built for seven years, and in 1953 the first stage was launched, and in 1954 the enterprise reached its design capacity. The first product of the plant was margarine. In 1956 the production of stearin was established, and in 1960 they began to produce mayonnaise. Veterans of the plant recall: setting up production, preparing reagents for laboratories, connecting equipment – everything had to be understood from scratch. Specialists and workers studied, passed exams and worked at the plant at the same time. Things are looking up.
Economic transformations of the early 1990s brought the enterprise to the brink of bankruptcy: at that time capacity utilization was only 7%. The situation began to improve only in 1998. In the following years, the enterprise implemented a program of complex modernization of production. In particular, a new fat bleaching and deodorization shop was launched, which is equipped with a fully automated line with high-tech Italian equipment. Representatives of the shop equipment supplier – Andreotti Impianti S.p.A. company, which is one of the world leaders in the production of industrial equipment, emphasized that this equipment was designed specifically for Saratov fat plant and has no analogues in Russia. Between 2011 and 2013, the plant was literally technologically reborn: new high-performance lines for the production of multifunctional margarines and fats were installed.
The equipment is one of the most modern and powerful in Russia, which emphasizes the leadership of our holding in the domestic oil and fat market. The new production is fully automated and ensures consistently high quality of fats and oils. The availability of technological lines of such level and, most importantly, a well-coordinated and highly qualified team, which is more than a thousand well-trained specialists, allows the enterprise to look confidently into the future and realize the most ambitious plans.
Today SZhK produces more than 200 products in product categories: industrial fats and margarines, consumer margarine and spreads, bulk and packaged frying oil blends, high oleic sunflower oil, mayonnaise. However, the ‘business card’ of the plant is, of course, industrial fats under the SOLPRO brand.”
SJK has a strong R&D center – the holy of holies of any major ingredient company. The company develops products and new products, tries out existing technologies and introduces new ones, and provides customer service to clients.
SZhK’s workshops are equipped with the most modern equipment, laboratories, innovation and application centers – everything to provide the Russian food industry with a high-class product. There are several workshops in the structure of the plant, and production is almost fully automated: this reduces the likelihood of human factor influence on the most accurate adherence to recipes and the risk of violation of technological processes. Specialists are involved in the stages of process control, set-up and adjustment, as well as in laboratories – testing and various samples are carried out at all stages as an integral part of quality control.
High quality margarine is the heart of confectionery products. Each Saratov factory product is made following a specific recipe in order to have the best process parameters required. For example, puff pastry margarine should be easily moldable across a broad range of temperatures. Only refined (tasteless and odorless) oils are used for margarines and fats production. That’s why refining, deodorization and bleaching are the key steps in the complicated product purification process.
All our oils and fats go a long way from materials to finished products, passing 21 (!) quality and safety control points. Some of the most important ones are in the licensed laboratory. On top of tracking all the parameters needed today, experts are also work for the future, so to speak. At the Saratov factory, they were ones of the first to start working on technologies and means to track 3 MCPD esters and monochloropropane diols content in products. A unique high precision robotized device able to replace 25 manual operations and guarantees total precision in contaminant measurement was purchased to do that.
Those are the three simple and easy key values of the SOLPRO brand margarines and fats produced by the Saratov factory; they are also key functions of the Saratov factory. Without exaggeration, our entire business is built on them: the same passion, energy and confidence the plant’s first workers felt when building it in the mid-20th century, when creating the fats and oil industry from scratch, and the workers of today fell when they develop and strengthen their expertise. In order to help our clients: bakeries, confectionery and diary factories, make high quality, healthy and safe foods, the Saratov factory now serves as the main platform for innovations. In 2018, after the new regulation on trans-isomers content limits had been adopted, the plant fully updated all its recipes and processes; in 2020, they launched the CLEAN&FREE modern product line, free of palm oil or E-numbers. Last year, the plant bought a cutting-edge 5 and 7.5 liters PET bottles filling line, increasing the output of mixtures for deep frying and high-oleic oils, including supplies to the leading fast food chain in Russia – Vkusno i Tochka (formerly McDonald’s). The Saratov factory became a licensed supplier back in 2016 and started shipping products to the chain that still makes their famous, delicious fries using mixtures for deep frying made at the Saratov factory.
But the main quality of Rusagro’s Industrial Fats Division in general and Saratov Fats Plant in particular is the ability to change, sensing the needs of the time. Therefore, modern global technologies are being actively introduced in all business areas, both in terms of equipment and management practices. Not so long ago, the company launched an important project – Rusagro’s Academy of Industrial Engineers. It provides training for all technologists of partner companies and distributors.
In the industrial fats division, one of the most important areas is technological support for all customers, because service is one of the most important values of the company. The division does not just sell fats and margarines to the company, but accompanies the process of introducing the ingredient into production. This is the primary task of RUSAGRO’s support technologists. In the very name “sales support technologist” lies his mission, as the team believes – to be close to the client in any situation. Specialists provide services to customers in product selection, adaptation of recipes for each production, introduction of new assortment, line launch.
The Saratov factory keeps developing. In 2023, they are going to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the factory’s inception. Like a gene in their DNA, the historical memory only helps the company staff strive more to broaden their expertise, develop their client service and partnership as years pass. RUSAGRO in general has always valued human relationships in addition to technologies. In a pol, 92% of the clients commended the company as the “most service-oriented and friendly”.
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