On Tuesday, Viking Malt, the largest malting company in Scandinavia and number 9 worldwide, has laid the foundation stone for a new production plant in Lahti, Finland. Slated to go into operation in 2023, the facility will cost EUR 90 million (USD 107m) and will have a capacity of about 85,000 tons of malt per year.
“The world around is changing, technology develops and sustainability becomes more and more in the center of everything we do,” says Pär-Gustaf Relander,Chairman of the Board and co-owner of Viking Malt, who hosted the ceremony at the construction site on Pippo-Kujala industrial area together with Viking Malt Group CEO Kasper Madsen. “We are doing our bit to shape this change and in doing so, we are undergoing our own transformation. Our culture and our values are the foundations for this,” Relander added.
Viking Malt Group is owned by Polttimo (62,5 %), a privately held family company owned by the Finnish Relander family, and Svenska Lantmännen (37,5 %), a Swedish agricultural cooperative owned by 19,000 Swedish farmers.
Polttimo was established as a spirits distillery (Oy Lahtis Bränneri Ab, Lahden Polttimo) in Lahti, in 1883. More than 50 years after its foundation, in 1934, the company started malt production at the company's headquarters. Over the years, the production facilitly was several times renewed and enlarged and in 1989 a roaster was built for the production of specialty malts and malt products which form up to today an important part of the business. After the breakdown of the Soviet Union and the opening of the Baltic countries, Polttimo bought the Saku Linnas malthouse in Estonia in 1993 (closed in 1999) and Litmalt in Lithuania in 1997.
The same year, Polttimo established together with Svenska Lantmännen a new malting group called Svenska Malt which was later renamed to Viking Malt and built a new malthouse at the harbor of Halmstad, Sweden, destined mainly for export. In 2004, the malthouses in Sweden and Lithuania were enlarged and one year later another malthouse in Söderhamn/Sweden(former Nord-Malt) was closed.
In 2011, Viking Malt bought local rival Raisio Malt, from Raisio/Finland and one year later the malthouse in Raisio was closed.
The last and biggest coup followed in 2016 when Viking Malt doubled its capacity by acquiring Danish Malting Group (DMG) from Carlsberg Group. DMG brought along one malthouse in Denmark and two malthouses in Poland. Today, the 260 employees of Viking Malt Group operate a total production capacity of 600 000 t per year with a yearly turnover of about EUR 250 million (USD 297m).
The decision to build a new malthouse in Lahti was already announced last year (inside.beer, 18.11.2020), but construction did not start earlier than this month.