JSC Sarmat is among the leading Breweries in Ukraine. Sarmat produces 8 types of beer, for almost each taste. In 2008 the world’s second largest brewery company - SABMiller Plc acquired the company’s shares and is now the main owner of Sarmat.
Written by Kateryna Ferdyn. Based on the Interview with Technical Director, SARMAT JSC, John F. Cathcart.
Towards the Workers’ Needs
The construction of brewery lasted from 1952 to 1962. The history of brewery started in 1951, when Stalin, the General Secretary of the USSR, visited Donetsk mines. While encouraging miners to achieve better working results to help the country rebuild the economy destroyed by the war, Iosif Stalin asked the miners: „What would you like?”. One braver worker dared to answer: „We’d like...beer”. Immediately in 1951 the decision about constructing the brewery in Donetsk was made. Next year the project was prepared and the construction began. At that time the brewery was called Donetsk Brewery Company and was equipped with state-of-the-art machines, being the biggest brewery in Ukraine. Production capacity allowed production of 7 mln liters of beer. Traditional well known types of beer were produced, like: Zhiguli, Ryzke, Moskovskoe, Ukrainskoe. The initial enterprise employed 1100 people. Later after modernization the number of personnel was reduced to 700, and then to 540 employees. The high quality of Donetsk beer became popular within a short period of time. The main reason for that was that beer is traditionally one of the favourite drinks in Donbass region of Ukraine, where a lot of coal mines are concentrated. Miners and metallurgists lose a lot of liquid, while working. Therefore, they should frequently rehydrate their bodies with water containing essential minerals and salts. Beer perfectly suits this purpose, as it gives energy, releases stress and replaces both the lost liquid and minerals.
In the mid-1990-s a full-scale reconstruction of the brewery was started. Donetsk Brewery always tried to be the flagship company, not hesitating to be the first to introduce innovations. Modernization helped Donetsk brewery company to be one of the first companies in Ukraine to introduce European technologies and take a leading positions among Ukrainian brewer companies. In the 1990’s Donetsk Brewery Company was the first Ukrainian brewery to start manufacturing beer in PET-bottles and kegs. Between the years 1994-1996 the specialists of the company developed the special technology of making dark malted barley, which was used to produce absolutely new types of dark beer that are very popular, such as Dobry Shubin. Since 1998 Donetsk Brewery Company started successfully developing the trade mark Sarmat, which in a short period of time became known far beyond the boundaries of the Donetsk region. The launch of the Sarmat trademark symbolised a new complex marketing strategy for the company, directed at gaining share of the Ukrainian beer market. The name Sarmat was not chosen by accident. It is connected with the oldest traditions of the South-Eastern areas of Ukraine, where for many years Ukrainian history was formed by strong and warlike Sarmat tribes. The Sarmats formed a nation of very proud independent and freedom-loving people. They had a unique culture, and according to legend they were the warriors of the Spirit. Their totem was an eagle, and it found reflexion in the Sarmat brewery symbol and main motto – the Spirit of Freedom. The Sarmat trademark soon became very well-recognized.
New Era of Development
In 2001 the brewery capacity reached 14 mln liters per year. Currently Sarmat’s market share in Ukraine is 4%. On October 27, 2001 Donetsk Brewery changed its name to CJSC Sarmat. This year became one of the most important for the company – it ended the old era and started an absolutely new chapter in the brewery’s history. CJSC Sarmat united the assets of 5 breweries: Lugansk Brewery, Non-alcoholic beer factory Krym, Dnepropetrovsk brewery Dnipro, company Poltavpivo, and Donetsk Brewery. Until 2008 the owner of 99% of Sarmat shares was the management company System Capital Management. On July 4, 2008 SABMiller plc – the world’s second largest brewing company – acquired 99.84% of the shares of CJSC Sarmat.
Introducing Innovations to the Market
In 2001 the battle for increase of beer shelf life was finally won. In this year Sarmat installed a new production line with oxygen-free bottle filling. As a result of introducing this new technology Sarmat was able to increase the shelf-life of Sarmat beers to 3 months without using preservatives or pasteurisation. That year Sarmat entered the Russian and Moldovian beer markets. 2002 was an important year for the whole Ukrainian beer industry, when Sarmat became the first and only local brewery to produce wheat beer. Prior to this wheat beer was very rare in the CIS countries, and was mostly imported from Europe. In mid 2001 wheat beer was first produced in Russia, and Sarmat did not wait long before starting wheat beer production in Ukraine. The taste of wheat beer is unique. Tasting it once, one will remember it forever. It is a light beer with a fine flavour of cloves from wheat malt, and is absolutely unique among beer types. Sarmat also created VIP beer to satisfy the tastes of sophisticated consumers. In 2002 Sarmat also introduced non-alcoholic beer, which soon found a lot of fans among car drivers, sportsmen and people leading very healthy life styles. Sarmat non-alcoholic beer has all the qualities of beer without alcohol. Until 2008 Sarmat had produced 13 types of beer under 3 brand names – Sarmat, Dnipro and Drive Max. Light beer types included Sarmat Svetloe, Zhigulivske, Originalne, Zemlak, Bavarske, Nasha Marks, Plzenske, Kaltenberg Pils, Pshenychne and alcohol free. Dark beer types included Porter, Dobry Shubin and Sarmat Temne. In spring 2009 Sarmat started producing Czech beer Velkopopovicky Kozel under licence. Sarmat entered the market with this new brand during the dynamic growth of the licensed beer market segment in Ukraine, which accounts for 9% of the total Ukrainian beer market.
Recognized by the Best Beer Authorities
The quality of Sarmat beer is proved by numerous awards obtained in national and international contests and exhibitions.
Latest modernization improvements
In April 2009 Sarmat completed the large scale modernisation program that began in 2008. The total amount of all investments is over 140 mln US dollars. The further modernization of production equipment included installation of a special water preparation system and an advanced system of microbiological stabilization of beer. The water preparation system is specially designed to ensure that all water used in the brewing process complies with the strict SABMiller standards. As a result of the modernization of the technological processes and improvement in microbiological quality the shelf life of the beer was extended. Modernization also impacted all key business processes. New standards and systems of management, applied in SABMiller companies were implemented. Financial accountability principles, distribution as well as staff training programs meet all international requirements. Renewed Sarmat brand means, first of all, high-quality products, which are brewed according to high world standards - best natural components and international technological standards.