How to open your own alcohol business

Food industry Alcoholic drinks

General alcohol market overview

More recently, the production of alcohol - both food and technical - was one of the monopolies of the state. Currently, this situation has changed: now anyone can engage in the production of alcohol, of course, subject to the payment of a special excise tax and state control over the quality of products. The production of alcohol can become a fairly profitable business, which, however, requires constant monitoring and competent management.

However, before opening your own production of such specific products as alcohol, you should carefully study such important issues as supply and marketing, as well as what type of alcohol (technical or drinking) you intend to produce.

Only after considering these questions and carefully weighing the answers to them, having studied the situation in the alcohol market in your region, you can start a business (or, in a bad situation, refuse it).

Supply issues in alcohol production

The most important issue that needs to be addressed before starting the production of alcohol is what raw materials you are going to use for this. As you know, for the production of alcohol by distillation of the so-called mash, or, simply speaking, distillation, raw materials are required: any sugar - or starch-containing product - is usually raw sugar (or molasses), wheat (or rice, corn), apples (as well as grapes, any fruits, etc.), sugar beets (or potatoes, other root vegetables and vegetables). Pure starch can also be used.

As you can see, the "range" is great. And it increases even more if you use substandard raw materials: rotten fruits, frozen potatoes, etc. But the main condition for the production of alcohol is that it would be possible to ensure a constant and uninterrupted supply of the plant with cheap, preferably local, raw materials.

Do not forget that different raw materials yield different amounts of alcohol - for sugar, the productivity is, of course, maximum: about 5.5 liters per 10 kg of raw materials; for wheat and molasses approximately equal - about 3 liters; and for sugar beets, apples and other fruit and vegetable crops and even less - 1 liter or less.

So supplying, for example, molasses and industrial waste from a local sugar factory is one thing; a sugar factory is even capable of providing alcohol; even the most modest size and volume of production; but if apples or beets are the basis of the supply, then the number and possibilities of suppliers must be carefully studied - if you take ill-considered actions, you risk the fact that the capacities of your plant will simply stand idle due to lack of raw materials.

Among other things, several sources of raw materials should be used simultaneously, i.e. diversify supplies. In principle, during distillation, it is completely irrelevant what mash is made of, especially for technical alcohol and whether mixed components are mixed. However, if you produce drinking alcohol, especially the category above “Extra”, mixing mash is unacceptable - they must be monolithic.

Alcohol production: sales issues

If the supply is more or less clear, then the situation with the sale is somewhat more complicated. Although alcohol is used in a wide variety of industries, you should carefully consider whether local consumers will be able to choose all the products, or still have to look for buyers from other regions where you will certainly encounter local competitors.

In general, alcohol, despite the fact that it is a product not subject to spoilage, coagulation, decay, etc. (subject to the only condition: like all hygroscopic materials, ethanol should be stored in sealed containers), it is still better to sell it in the local market.

The reason for this is the most prosaic: a rather high excise tax makes alcohol an already expensive product, and transportation only increases the price by putting transportation costs into it.

Therefore, local consumers of alcohol with rare exceptions (lack of local producers, or low quality of the products produced by them) prefer to work with local suppliers.

So, regarding sales, one should take into account where, from which suppliers and, most importantly, at what prices, local chemical, pharmaceutical and food enterprises (as well as manufacturers of perfumes and cosmetics, if any) take alcohol. If you, having studied suppliers of raw materials and calculated profitability, can offer the best conditions - feel free to start your own business.

Room, technology and equipment for the production of alcohol

Technically, there is nothing complicated in the production of alcohol. Raw materials and ordinary baker's yeast (it is also possible to use enzymes to accelerate the fermentation process) are loaded into a special technical bath - a container made of stainless material with a volume corresponding to the capacity of a distillation (distillation) unit. In the brew tank, a drain valve (or plug) and a hatch for a water trap are needed, since carbon dioxide is released during fermentation.

The room for the fermentation department should exceed the area of ​​the actual fermentation tanks by a factor of 2–3. This will ensure easy loading of raw materials. The height of the ceiling also depends on the height of the containers.

The room must be heated or well insulated (fermentation is an exothermic reaction and, subject to heat preservation, can be maintained spontaneously), but ventilation (at least natural, when using a water seal and forced without it) is mandatory. Mash is prepared 6-7 days, i.e. for a continuous process, the number of fermentation tanks is required, exceeding the capacity of the distillation equipment by 6-7 times - it turns out that the weekly rate of raw materials is loaded at a time).

Ready mash, the alcohol content of which reached about 15 ° (this indicator is the maximum, since the yeast is not viable in more concentrated solutions, the fermentation process simply stops), enters the distillation unit, which consists of 2 parts - mash and distillation.

In the first of them, the mash is actually distilled, i.e. the process of heating it (when ethanol and associated light compounds evaporate) and cooling (and condensation) of the vapors.

In the second retort (it is called a distillation column or distillation cube), the process of purification of ethanol from fusel oils occurs by fractional distillation, when ethanol is purified from both volatile and heavy fractions of organic substances.

To accommodate distillation equipment, a specially equipped room is also required. In the distillation department (workshop) of the plant, the presence of running water, sewage, floors with a slope and with drains for drains is mandatory. The height of the room and its area are selected depending on the size of the distillation equipment.

The cost of equipment for the production of alcohol directly depends on its capacity. We can distinguish 2 conventional types of such equipment: small workshop and large factory. Accordingly, the first sample can be purchased for an amount of about € 2600 (distillation unit with a capacity of 12 liters per hour) without additional equipment - fermentation tanks, alcohol meters, thermoelectric heaters, refrigerators, etc.

But an industrial design is more expensive: here prices range from 900 to 3000 thousand rubles. for one distillation column. Of course, the performance in this case will be much greater.

Prospects and pitfalls of the alcohol business

If the issue of supply and sales is resolved, the only issue requiring close attention will be only compliance with current tax (excise) legislation and product quality control.

From the perspectives, we can note the development of our own chemical (paint and varnish products, solvents, antifreeze, etc.), pharmacological (antiseptics, tinctures, extracts), perfumes and cosmetics (perfumes, colognes, aerosols) or food (alcoholic drinks) production. In addition, in the spirit of the times to begin production of fuel for environmental engines.

Of course, these areas also require additional costs and investment, and it is profitable to trade in alcohol in its pure form. This, of course, is so. However, such types of production as, for example, high-quality so-called ("Elite") alcoholic drinks or perfumes are much more profitable and will pay for themselves in any case.

There is another interesting way to get additional profit without major investments. This is the production of feed for farm animals (cows, pigs, etc.) from the so-called bards - light brown suspensions with the smell of one or another raw material. Barda - a departure from the production of ethanol, the amount obtained is about 13 liters per liter of alcohol.

Due to the content of fiber, carbohydrates, protein and trace elements, bard is a valuable secondary raw material resource. In addition, it can be used as a barter product when purchasing raw materials from agricultural enterprises, or even distributed free of charge (not processed into feed, of course) as an additional incentive for cooperation.

Pavel Biryukov

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