The new beer will eventually be manufactured at Ochakovo's brewery in Penza, although the first batches have been made at the company's main brewery in Moscow in order to test the brand. The company is confident that sales will reach around 2 million decalitres this year.
"Privoljskoie beer is designed to tap into the growing popularity of local discount beer brands, a segment which has shown strong growth of late in many regional beer markets," said Oxana Rusina, Ochakovo PR manager.
The new beer will cost around RUR24-27 (around $1) for a 1.5 litre bottle. The brand will be widely advertised and marketed throughout the first half of 2005, with the full rollout of the brand coming in the second half.
Ochakovo's research shows that beer drinkers in Russia's many regional markets (in particular those away from the major conurbations of Moscow and St Petersburg) are fiercely loyal to local brews, resisting the steady introduction of more expensive international brands such as those owned by InBev or Carlsberg, the two main foreign brewing groups in Russia.
Part of this loyalty is due to low cost of these brands, which are produced very close to the point of sale and so can offer local consumers beers of higher quality without a major increase in price. Local companies also benefit from strong brand recognition and trust.
The new beer will be sold in three different variants, Svetloie, Klasiceskoe and "Rodnoe, all of which have been formulated to best meet the specific taste demands of beer drinkers in the Privoljsk Federal District. The beer is being launched initially in 1.5 litre PET bottles, the most popular format in the local discount beer market, but a 2.25 litre variant is also planned.
Russia's biggest brewing group, BBH (a joint venture between Carlsberg and Scottish and Newcastle) last week reported that its premium brands, both the local Baltika brew and its foreign licensed beers, had been badly hit by the rapid growth in the low-cost PET beer market in 2004, especially in the first half.
Ochakovo remains one of the few major Russian breweries without a foreign shareholder, and despite its Moscow base it is keen to expand as quickly as possible into the more remote regions of the country, where beer's potential is yet to be completely realised.
It already has two regional breweries - the one in Penza, to the east of Moscow, where Privoljskoie will be brewed and another in Krasnodar, down on the Black Sea - and this month work began on a third brewery, in the Siberian city of Tumen.
Construction of this new site, which will be the company's first east of the Ural mountains, is due to be completed in June, and will have an initial production capacity of 120 million litres of beer and 40 million litres of non-alcoholic and low-alcohol drinks per year. Brewing is expected to start in the second quarter of 2006, with soft drink production starting in 2007.