Fragrant Production Facility. How They Make Chocolate at One of the Oldest Confectionaries in Moscow

November 11
Economy and entrepreneurship

The candies, cookies, waffles and other sweets made by Moscow confectioners are known to many people from childhood. The manufacturers’ history is many-decade and they treat recipes and traditions very carefully here. The Rot Front Confectionary celebrated its 195th anniversary this year. The enterprise has the status of an industrial complex and receives benefits from city authorities.

“14 enterprises are engaged in the production of chocolate and sugar-based confectionery in Moscow. In 2020, they manufactured and then sold products worth of 43.6 billion rubles. They made 107.5 thousand tons of chocolate and caramel in the eight-month period of 2021 alone. Moscow confectioners’ products are exported to 65 countries. A significant share in the total production volume is covered by the Rot Front Confectionary that annually makes over 70 thousand tons of finished products,” said Vladimir Efimov, Deputy Moscow Mayor for Economic Policy and Property and Land Relations.

Read this mos.ru article to learn how cocoa beans are processed, how many bars are produced per minute, and how one can identify natural chocolate.

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Cocoa beans and the persistent smell of chocolate

A large-scale production facility is located in an ordinary industrial building in the south of Moscow in Biryulevo Zapadnoye District. There one can find labyrinths made of production sites, workshops and conveyor belts with employees wearing special sterile clothing. Gloves, protective masks and hats, shoe covers, and gowns. However, the main thing that greets visitors and workers is the persistent smell of chocolate. The aroma is so strong that it seems to saturate everything through and through. However, it becomes habitual in just one hour.

One of the main reasons for this aroma is processing of cocoa beans. The confectionary makes raw materials for its products, i.e. cocoa butter and cocoa powder, on its own. For this purpose, in 2019, it created a special workshop with an area of two thousand square metres being one of the largest workshops not only in Russia, but also in Eastern Europe. The company invested 1.3 billion rubles in this project and created 150 new jobs.

According to Head of the Department of Investment & Industrial Policy of Moscow Aleksandr Prokhorov, over 10 thousand people are engaged in the production of chocolate and confectionery in Moscow every day. The average salary of the employees working in the city food industry is about 83 thousand rubles a month. Cocoa beans are processed in several stages. In one room on the production facility, they open bags with raw materials brought from Nigeria, Ecuador, Venezuela, and other countries.

“We have a quality control department, we check beans at each stage. If we find a bad supply, we send it back to the seller, but it happens seldom,” says Dmitry Solovyev, Technical Manager of the Cocoa Beans Processing Workshop.

First, they place cocoa beans in a special drum where a centrifuge screens out foreign particles from them, then they wash beans and remove husks. An adjacent workshop roasts beans and grinds them into crushed cocoa. After that, they again roast crushed cocoa to make grated cocoa. The manufacturing technicians say that this is the main component of the chocolate production process. Cocoa powder and cocoa butter are made from it too.

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One only needs to squeeze the grated raw material to get cocoa butter. They do that using a special installation that, after pressing, literally throws off pancake-shaped cocoa mill cake (it will turn into powder after grinding). When processing is over, they pour extra virgin cocoa butter into special boxes for further production of sweets.

 

The expert has also shared tips for ordinary consumers. When choosing chocolate and candies, pay attention to their production date: the fresher, the tastier, of course. Although usually chocolate can be stored for up to one year. It also makes sense to study product composition. The first place should be taken by grated cocoa, cocoa butter or sugar. Don’t be afraid if a white film appears on a chocolate tablet (within the expiration date). Probably, the seller did not comply with the product storage temperature regime, but it is still edible. The specialist adds that it means migration of fats, which may take place in a natural product containing cocoa butter. The chocolate melting temperature is 34 degrees centigrade, so a natural product melts in the hands and in the mouth.

Sweet belts with a familiar taste

Another major investment project of the confectionary is a new line meant to produce chocolate with double and triple fillings – milk, nuts, caramel, etc. Its employees say that its launch will increase the chocolate production volume and expand the product range: they have already developed nine new types of desserts. Now they are running-in this production line, specialists are programming equipment and testing processes.

By the way, many processes at the confectionary are automated, its workers only monitor compliance with the production process. For example, next to the production line to be commissioned, one may find a line making the Rot Front bars – probably the most famous product of the confectionary. According to Natalya Puchkova, Director for Quality Control, the recipe of the candies has not changed since 1959. This is how they are trying to preserve the taste known since childhood. The equipment kneads the ingredients and forms bundles from a sweet paste, then the latter are cut into hundreds of candies that go as even rows along the conveyor belt to wrapping machines. The confectionary makes 1,250 bars every minute.

 

They make sugar cookies on the same production site, but in the next room. This workshop is the responsibility of Valentina Besedina who has been working at the confectionary for over 27 years. She can easily tell you about any dessert made here. “Finished dough goes to rolling and then to moulding installations. Then these semi-finished products are placed in a stove. The baking process takes 14-15 minutes, then the cookies travel along the conveyor and cool for 10 minutes, and after that they go to the packaging installation,” says Valentina Besedina.

Packaged goods go to the warehouse and then – to retail stores. They are sold not only in Russia, but also abroad. For example, the Korovka candies will go to Jordan, so their labels are printed in English.

Now the confectionary is working on a 24/7 basis – confectioners have a high season before the New Year. They started packaging gifts back in September. The employees have to manage to form about 60 types of gifts. They do that manually, because the orders are personalised: they contain different sets of candies and chocolate.

From a workshop to a large confectionary

Moscow merchant Georgy Lenov who opened a lollipops-making workshop in 1826 probably had no idea how far his business would go. Entrepreneur’s descendants expanded the family business to start producing several varieties of candies. In the 20th century, the enterprise was nationalised and renamed into Rot Front (in German – “Red Front”). Since 2002, Rot Front has been part of the United Confectioners Holding.

Now the confectionary has over 3.2 thousand employees and produces over 300 types of confectionery. Besides, the status of an industrial complex received by the confectionary in 2016 has given it a new development impetus.

“The status of an industrial complex gives the company the right for a significant tax relief. For example, it pays a preferential profit, land and property tax, as well as land rent. By saving money, the confectionary implements socially significant projects for both the enterprise and the city. It creates new jobs, holds presentations for young specialists to provide them with career guidance and arouse their interest in this profession,” said Aleksey Orlov, Managing Director of the United Confectioners Holding.

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Source: mos.ru

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