The FINANCIAL — The Ludi Batumuri brewery has been producing beer since 1951. Now, its original equipment, designed by Czech specialists, stands side by side with new state-of-the-art equipment, bought with the help of an EU4Business investment loan.
The Ludi Batumuri brewery was the destination for one of the first field visits by the new Head of the EU Delegation in Georgia, Ambassador Carl Hartzell, who toured the new production line, upgraded with the support of the EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line, and tasted its trademark unpasteurised draft beer.
Ludi Batumuri is a privately owned enterprise with a long and rich history. Originally called the ‘Batumi Plant of Beer and Non-alcoholic Drinks’, construction of the original factory started in 1949 and beer production started in 1951, supplying different types of beer and lemonade for the Western Georgian market.
The original plant was designed and built by Czech specialists, and some equipment from those times is still in use. During the Soviet period the plant produced seven different brands of beer using recipes developed by the Czech specialists.
Currently the company produces one brand of unpasteurized, draft beer under the registered trademark ‘LUDI BATUMURI’ (Beer from Batumi).
Unique marketing strategy
Capitalizing on its long history and well-established brand name and presence in the local market, Ludi Batumuri uses a unique marketing strategy, namely the company uses zero advertising and does not engage with traditional distribution channels. Instead, it does things in the old-fashioned way, selling unpasteurized draft beer in kegs, right outside the factory doors. Even though the company prefers to preserve its old way of doing things, some innovation was necessary to increase production capacity and meet the increasing demand for high quality beer. A project was therefore initiated to upgrade the plant and manufacturing process.
In 2017, Ludi Batumuri applied for a EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line loan and grant, and by mid-2017 the company had already completed its investment and full project implementation.
The investment project included a new and modern production building, new boiler and steam distribution and a new beer brewing line from Microtech, with semiautomatic control. The project also resulted in a capacity increase to 7,500,000 litres annually and in improved compliance with national and EU Standards.
The project was financed with a $1 million EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line loan and, after successful verification, the company received a cash-back grant of $150,000 funded under the EU4Business initiative of the European Union.
Advice for small businesses
Ludi Batumuri did not confine its improvement project to the installation of new equipment. With the support of the EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses programme, the company complemented its equipment upgrade with the implementation of HACCP certification and ISO 22000:2005 certification.
The entire certification process, including the introduction of relevant documentation and control processes as well as related training of staff was co-financed by the programme.
During his visit, the Ambassador had a chance not only to observe, but also appreciate the sheer magnitude of the investment, as the old production plant is still preserved standing proudly next to new, modern and energy efficient production plant. Georgian hospitality was at its best during the plant walkthrough and included a beer testing ceremony hosted by the company owner, Nana Janelidze. During the lunch provided in the factory, Mrs Janelidze also shared her plans to turn the old production plant into a museum and the surrounding land into a beer garden.