The Viciunai Group has invested EUR 10 million in a new frozen food factory in Plunge, Lithuania, that produces Japanese-style dumplings, among a number of other products. The state-of-the-art plant, operating as Orka Foods UAB, is capable of turning out 1,500 kilograms of the ethnic treat per hour, in addition to a wide range of other ready-to-serve items that include traditional Lithuanian and contemporary recipes. Monthly output is in the vicinity of 1,500 tons.
“It’s the first of its kind in Europe,” Dirk Belmans, managing director of Viciunai’s Brugge, Belgium-based sales and marketing division, told FrozenFoodsBiz.com. “Outside of Japanese restaurants, this kind of dumpling is still very relatively unknown in Europe.”
But not for long, now that the Viciunai Group’s sales teams are busy promoting the dumplings, which contain imported Asian ingredients including bunching onions and sweet potato pasta.
A large assortment of non-Japanese-style dumplings are also produced, stuffed with meat, salmon, cod, curd and jam. The meat used for filling the dumplings is minced on site. Northern shrimp, vegetables and Siberian garlic chives are among the ingredients. Tofu, or soya curd, is also produced at the factory.
The dough for the Viči brand products is produced from top-quality wheat flour. Air is entirely sucked out of the dumpling dough in the production process, so it can be rolled out to 0.8 mm thickness and thus accounts for no more than 40% of the product, which is heat-treated before freezing.
Forms of the dumplings and other items are specially designed for different ways of cooking and consuming: fast snacks, boiling, baking or steaming. The range also includes playful Viči offerings that appeal to children.
The product line is currently available in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Macedonia, Romania, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Russia, Byelorussia, the Ukraine, Kosovo, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
In 2013 Orka Foods UAB received certification by the State Food and Veterinary Service enabling it products to be supplied to the entire EU single market. At the same time, it got the green light to sell the range in the Russian market.
Meanwhile, Viciunai has invested EUR 10 million to build a biofuel plant to produce steam for its Lithuanian production operations.
The private-held company, which rang up sales topping EUR 550 million in 2012, employs 6,300 people throughout Europe. It operates nine factories in Lithuania, Estonia, Russia and Spain, produces a diversified line of frozen and chilled products that include surimi and breaded fish, smoked fish, caviar spreads, salads, bread, pancakes and pizza. Exports to more than 50 countries account for 91% of turnover.
In addition to producing foodstuffs, it operates 17 distribution companies which handle third-party products as well as its own range, and runs 20 logistics companies which transport finished products throughout Europe and beyond.