02 June 2014

Strauss Group targets Australia

From The Australian, 3 June 3014, by Damon Kitney:
Ofra Strauss says Strauss Group’s vision is to see the spread and dip category growing an
Ofra Strauss says Strauss Group’s vision is to see the spread and dip category growing and ‘to see more Australians eat hummus’ Source: Supplied
ISRAEL’s biggest food and beverage company and the world’s largest hummus manufacturer wants to expand its emerging dips and spreads business in Australia to capitalise on growing demand for its products.
Strauss Group, which in addition to dips and spreads owns the Strauss Coffee and Max Brenner Chocolate Bar brands, is also considering expanding its Strauss Water purification division into Australia after launching a joint venture in China.
The company’s chairwoman ...Ofra Strauss, said the expansion of the group’s dips and spreads business in Australia would be spearheaded by Obela Australia, part of a global joint venture between Strauss and soft drinks giant Pepsico.
Obela Australia was established 2½ years ago to market the Red Rock Deli brand of dips. In September 2012, Obela bought the operations of Copper­pot dips, including its production plant. Last year Obela launched its own range of hummus in Australia.
...Strauss offers a diverse range of dip products in the US market such as salsas and guacamoles through its Sabra brand, also a joint venture with Pepsico, and Ms Strauss said Obela could do the same in Australia.
...Strauss Group, which has turnover of $US2bn, now has a presence in more than 20 countries after striking partnerships with Pepsico and other multinationals such as Unilever, Lavazza, Danone, Haier, Virgin Group and TPG Capital.
Half its revenues now come from outside Israel. In Australia its 30 Max Brenner outlets are owned by a private Australian company backed by entrepreneurs Tom and Lilly Haikin, who licence the brand from Strauss Group.
Strauss’s water business produces drinking water heating and cooling WaterBars for in-home and business use and has a joint venture with Richard Branson’s Virgin Group to market its products in Britain.
In China it has a partnership with the Chinese electronics giant Haier and Ms Strauss said she would like to see the division with a presence in Australia in the future.
“I hope we will. I can definitely see a great niche for the water purification business. Australians are alert to the water issue as a whole. The green approach to less bottles, less plastic,’’ she said.
Eighteen months ago Strauss Group launched an initiative called Alpha Strauss focusing on developing a food technology industry in Israel, to make it the “Silicon Valley of Food’’.
Foundation partners for the project have included Pepsico, Danone, Estee Lauder and Cargill and Strauss currently has ventures with 20 start-up companies across its portfolio.
Ms Strauss said the program could have application in Australia, as part of the push for improved innovation in the food industry to capitalise on soaring demand from the Asian middle class.
“What is great about Australia is that it is the gate to so many other places and markets. Australia is a small country in terms of population. So with projects like this, it is easier to bring people together.’’ ...
“For us it would be great if the two countries would do it. It is not about competition.
“There is such a big need now in the world, in the whole supply chain.’’