For a long time, Russia was Valio's primary export destination. The foreign foods import ban in 2014 has changed the nature of the business significantly. Now the majority of Valio products sold in Russia are produced locally. For Russian consumers, Valio products still represent high quality, responsibility, purity and good taste.
Activities for over a century
Valio has done business in Russia since the early 1900s. The first exports of Valio butter to the Russian Empire took place in 1908. The founding of the Valio branch office in Saint Petersburg in 1994 marked the start of Valio's modern operations in Russia. OOO Valio, Valio's Russian subsidiary, has been the only importer and manufacturer of Valio-branded products in Russia since 2002.
"For decades, Valio has first and foremost been a brand of quality for Russian consumers."
"For decades, Valio has first and foremost been a brand of quality for Russian consumers. When consumers see Valio products in shops, they can be certain that the products use the best quality milk and peerless modern production methods, says Evgenia Ponyatova, head of communications at OOO Valio.
Local production and Finnish imports
The best-known Valio brands in Russia and the CIS countries are butter, known as Maslo Valio™, Valio Viola™ cheese spreads and Valio Oltermanni® cream cheese. The selection also includes many fresh products, such as milk, yoghurt, quark, and sour cream.
The Valio Viola™ cheese spreads are produced by Valio's plant in Ershovo, near Moscow. The other products are sourced from select local subcontractors. All fresh dairy products are made using high-quality Russian milk. The total number of staff at OOO Valio is about 350 people.
Valio still exports some products from Finland to Russia that are not covered by the ban on foreign foods. These include lactose-free milk, juices and berry soups. Towards the end of 2016, Valio announced it would begin exporting Finnish Valio Baby® baby foods to Russia.
People will pay for quality
Russians are heavy milk product users and have a large selection at their disposal. Their manner of use may differ from European preferences.
"Milk products are still used in large quantities, but in recent years the purchasing power of Russian consumers has been significantly impacted. People are still prepared to pay for quality, and for Russian consumers, the clean and additive-free products of Valio represent quality in particular," says Raul Lönnström, managing director at OOO Valio.