Jay was born in New York (USA) in 1962. He grew up in Mexico, studied in England, lived on a crocodile farm in Papua New Guinea, travelled all around Australia, has been to Italy, Spain, and Germany, and lived in the French capital for seven years (on a barge next to Pierre Richard’s houseboat).
In 1993, Jay Robert came to Moscow for the first time. Having worked for almost 17 years as a cook in the capital’s restaurants, since 2008 he has become a successful and established cheese-maker in Russia.
— What was the story behind moving from Paris to Moscow?
When Russia reacted to the sanctions against her with an embargo on European cheeses, supermarket shelves throughout the country began to empty. But those shelves on which there used to be Roquefort or Parmigiano supplied from the EU did not stay empty for long. Today, they are occupied by equivalents produced in Russia, Belarus and other CIS countries. Except that they vary greatly in quality. Alas, by no means always for the better. According to an announcement from the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, over 10% of cheese in Russia is counterfeit. But people still want good cheese.
During the first year of the embargo, it seemed to everyone that the ban on produce from the EU would not last long at all. But two years have passed already and the sense that the embargo is indeed for the long term is gathering strength. And against this background there began to appear more and more small farms and cheese-producers trying to manufacture natural produce based on European recipes but with local ingredients. Quite often there are foreign experts at work at these factories. It is not unusual for these foreigners to be the owners of what is very much an in-demand business in Russia.
In order to open a small cheese factory in Russia today, an investor requires about a million roubles. For this money he can acquire inexpensive or second-hand imported, or even cheaper Russian, equipment with the capacity to produce around 15-20 kg of cheese per day. That said, it is essential to find an experienced cheese-maker. After all, the majority of Russian experts have not adequately sampled Western cheeses. And in order to make a truly good product, you need to entice people over from Italy, Holland or France. Alternatively, you could send a Russian cheese-producer to train abroad, but this costs more.
The recoupment period for such factories is about 3-5 years. And that is provided that the embargo remains in place.
The overwhelming majority of such farms in Russia now produce simple, natural cheese. And that is all you need for it all to sell well. Even if your cheese isn’t of the very highest quality but is made from high quality milk, it will, none-the-less, find its consumer on the massive Russian market. Which is why, in my opinion, the number of small farms and cheese-producers in Russia will grow further still, and very rapidly. And it will be years before such farms will have to engage in a cut-throat battle for customers. In the meantime, metaphorically speaking, Russians are buying up cheese before it has had the time to ripen. After all, supply is still far outstripped by demand.
The Russian cheese-production market is expanding rapidly. This is aided by the embargo on certain products into Russia. As well as the trend for producing and consuming products with natural ingredients. Most of the growth is being experienced by small cheese-making set-ups. And there is still an enormous elasticity to this market. Especially in the high-end segment. Matching the output of European producers has still not yet been fully achieved. Which is why retailers are waiting on new suppliers.
Opening a cheese factory in Russia today requires an investment of upwards of100,000 euro. And the amount of investment will very much depend on the quality of the produce you are intending to make. The investment sum will also be affected by how green you want your product to be. Ecological soundness means more money spent on higher-quality ingredients. To cut costs, quite often cheese-makers acquire their own small dairy farms.
As for precise figures, to open a small luxury cheese plant, costs start at7,000,000 roubles. Distribution of outlay is typically as follows:
– leasing of premises for one year:500,000 – 800,000 RUB;
– refurbishing and re-equipping the premises:1,000,000 – 1,500,000 RUB;
– staff wages for the first six-month period:1,500,000 – 1,800,000 RUB;
– equipment:4,500,000 RUB;
– raw materials and other costs:1,000,000 RUB.
Your own dairy farm would require around a further 2,000,000 – 3,000,000 RUB. And with this you could save in the order of 500,000 – 800,000 roubles by setting up cheese production at the same location.