ASTANA – Rakhat Confectionery, one of the leaders in the Kazakh market, is making its sweets even sweeter. The company has modernised its equipment to increase production value and product range without government support. The enterprise has developed and entered new foreign markets despite the national currency’s devaluation and raw materials’ price increase.
The equipment, purchased from Germany, allows Rakhat to produce approximately 50 different types of chocolate products, said chairperson Konstantin Fedorets.
“About two billion tenge (US$5.5 million) was invested in the modernisation. I want to emphasise that Rakhat does not attract external financing and works exclusively on its own funds, creating 45 new jobs. Productivity is high enough to meet the needs of the market at the moment. Then, we will move to a new stage of our own strategy and next year we will please the consumer with new products released according to international standards,” he noted.
On average, the plant currently produces 250 tonnes per day and the demand for chocolate products is growing every year. While the former facilities could not completely meet the needs, the new production line allows the factory to not only fill its orders, but expand its range. The confectioner plans to resume producing porous chocolate and increase manufacturing chocolate with cherries, cranberries, almonds and peanuts.
The present market situation is not very favourable for the industry in general due to import dependence on currency rates, said Fedorets. Cocoa beans and most nuts are not produced in Eurasian Economic Union countries and the falling tenge rate is reflected in the cost of production. At the same time, certain raw materials, particularly flour, are purchased domestically. As flour is one of the country’s export products, however, the cost is still high.
“But we have no great reasons for pessimism. Of course, state support would help us, because competition with Russian and Ukrainian manufacturers is very tough. We do not need financial investments, but we need the creation of equal conditions for all players. We will do everything to avoid raising prices for our products,” he noted.
Adding items to the line will be beneficial, said production manager Marina Krestyanskaya.
“The launch of the new chocolate and casting line will increase the production and enable production of chocolate with various fillings,” she added.
Rakhat is meeting its plans this year with 7-percent growth and a good operating profit. The company has benefitted from South Korea’s Lotte Group, a strategic investor with vast experience in the food sector. Its standards and policies include preserving confectionery production traditions in all markets.
Rakhat exports its products to nine countries, with Germany and Asian nations serving as important markets. The volume sent to Mongolia and Afghanistan is increasing and the markets in the Caucasus are actively developing. In Azerbaijan, the company manufactures products under the brands of local partners.
South Korea has also expressed interest in Rakhat products. The partners conducted tastings and market research and selected nearly 20 caramel and chocolate products suitable for its market.
“Now, we are undergoing certification for compliance with the sanitary requirements of South Korea and they are extremely high,” said Fedorets.