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. … A long time ago, the place where the Saratov factory now stands was used for vegetable farming. But the destiny of those lands was far more than that. In the first post-war year, the USSR Council of Ministers decided to build a fats plant there. The construction lasted for 7 years; finally, in 1953, they launched the first production stage and the next year the plant reached its target production output. Margarine was the first product to be made there. In 1956 they started making stearin, in 1960 – mayonnaise. Factory veterans remember: setting up production, finding chemicals for the lab, bringing equipment online: all that had to be done from scratch. Engineers and technicians studied, passed exams and worked all at the same time. The plant took off. Economic reforms of the 1990s brought the Saratov factory to the verge of bankruptcy: only 7% of its production capacities were used at the time. Things started looking up only in 1998. Later, the plant fully modernized its production capacities. In particular, they launched a new fat bleaching and deodorization shop with a fully automated high-tech, Italian-made process line. The equipment manufacturer from Italy, Andreotti Impianti S.p.A., one of the global leaders in production machinery supplies, were especially insistent that the line they made for Saratov factory is bespoke and the only one of its kind in Russia. In 2011-2013, the plant experienced a literal technological rebirth, getting new high-capacity lines for multi-purpose fats and margarines production.
Our production equipment is among the most advanced and powerful in Russia, underscoring the fact that we are the leader of the Russian fats and oil market. The new, fully automated machinery guarantees stable high quality of our margarines and fats. Process equipment of that level and, most importantly, our tightly knit and highly skilled workforce (over 1,000 trained professionals) are what makes our plant look into the future with confidence and implement our most ambitious plans. Today, Saratov factory ships over 200 SKUs in the following categories: fats and margarines for food industry, consumer margarines and spreads, bulk and bottled oils for deep frying, high-oleic sunflower oils, mayonnaises. But the SOLPRO industrial fats and margarines are without a doubt the statement products for the plant. The Saratov factory has a strong R&D branch, the sanctum sanctorum for any large food ingredient producer. There, we improve our existing products and develop new ones, perfect technologies we already have and study innovations, as well as provide client service. Saratov factory production shops are outfitted with cutting-edge machinery, we have our labs, R&D centers: in other words, everything needed to supply high-quality products for the Russian food industry. The plant has a number of shops which are almost fully automated, lowering the risk of human error while following precise recipes or production processes. Staff professionals are involved in process control, equipment adjustment and troubleshooting and in lab works, testing samples at all process stages – a staple 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.
In addition to PET line, the facility has a Bag-in-Box one for making mixtures and oils for food and HoReCa (hotels, restaurants, cafes) industries. But the main feature of the RUSAGRO Fats for Food Industry Division and the Saratov factory in particular is their ability to change with the times. That’s why cutting-edge technology is at the heart of every Group business, and is integrated into everything, both in terms of equipment and in terms of management practices. Recently, the company launched an important project, the RUSAGRO Fats for Food Industry Academy. It encompasses training for all partner and distributor companies’ process engineers. One of the key functions in the Fats for Food Industry Division is process support for all clients, because service is one of our key corporate values. The Division does not just sell fats and margarines, but also provides support for their use in production. That’s the foremost objective of RUSAGRO support process engineers. The very title, the “support process engineer”, reflects, as they believe in the company, the mission of those professionals: to be there for clients in any situation. They help clients select products, adapt their recipes for each company, set up a new product range, launch a production line. 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”. Subscribe to our Telegram channel and follow the news at https://t.me/solpro_expert