As one of the largest producers of gherkins in the world, Reitzel International is well entrenched in markets throughout the globe and its delicious pickles and other food items can be found in many of the major supermarkets under private label brands. With more than 65 percent of the gherkins private label market in France, 85 percent in Switzerland, and a very sizeable presence in Russia, Germany and the United States, all of it products are certified kosher by the Orthodox Union.
“Reitzel International’s roots date back more than 80 years and throughout this time we have continuously strived to provide quality products and service to our customers,” said Jean-Bernard Misrachi, Reitzel International’s Director. “OU certification, which we acquired in early 2000, is something we cherish as it has both a traditional meaning for our company due to my family’s Jewish background, and as an enormous aid in helping us achieve our goals of entering new markets because having it establishes in many customers’ minds that our company abides by a certain level of standards.”
For the past 15 years Reitzel has been concentrating its efforts on pickle production in India as well as providing olives, artichokes, asparagus, and cherry tomatoes from Peru. However, the firm’s roots go much deeper.
It all started when a dynamic Jewish entrepreneur from Algeria named Eli Benichou decided in 1917 to come to France to start his own company, importing thousands of tons of cereal from the Soviet Union. During World War II, he hid in a monastery in the South of France. In 1945, he was freed by the United States army and his daughter soon married a young Jewish logistics expert, Claude Misrachi. In 1951, Claude established a domestic transportation company, drawing on his own knowledge along with Eli’s trading expertise.
Transports M. Misrachi was born, became quite successful and grew into Misrachi International SA in 1986. From 1951 to 1991 the company specialized in providing logistics services to its customers in the food business. Beginning in 1992, after Jean-Bernard Misrachi, Eli’s grandson, joined the company, the focus was switched to goods, and the company invested heavily in the pickle industry, introducing the crop in India in 1993.
Beginning in 2000, Misrachi International SA was involved in building a state-of-the art factory near Bangalore in India, thus establishing the company as one of the world’s leading pickle producers. The company was sold in 2004 to the Reitzel Group, a Swiss conglomerate, and became Reitzel International SA, but management was retained by Eli’s grandson, Jean-Bernard. The main product focus remains on gherkins; however, other vegetables such artichokes, asparagus and olives have also been added to the product line, all OU certified of course.
Obtaining OU certification for the factory was crucial to the company for several reasons. It provided products with access to many markets which would otherwise have been closed to them, a necessity for the company’s growth. Certification also reassured many potential customers that certain food safety standards were being adhered to during production, in a sense providing a third-party audit. Most importantly, certification ensured that the company’s strong Jewish roots were respected and not forgotten.
Reitzel International SA’s gherkins can be found on local supermarket shelves throughout Europe, North America, Russia and Canada, among other countries. With all production from fresh-pack, a rarity in the gherkins business, this ensures a crunchy and tasty final product the customer will come back to time and time again. With recipes originating from France, the land of gourmet cuisine, these perfectly grown pickles are irresistible. Try one for yourself and be the judge; you can rest assured you won’t be disappointed.
Rabbi Shaul Gold is Orthodox Union rabbinic coordinator for Reitzel International.