No one could ever call Tnuva’s executives “impulsive.” During the past several decades this former dairy cooperative has methodically built itself into a sophisticated multi-level corporation that is not only Israel’s Number One food company (with over $1.5 billion in annual sales), but is also the world’s largest producer of kosher food products.
Tnuva has also acquired a keen reputation for quality and quantity by investing millions of dollars a year on upgrading its equipment (its sophisticated Alon Tavor facility in the Galilee alone cost over $200 million to build), as well as launching new lines of palate-pleasing products – but only after widespread consumer market surveys.
Recognizing the growth and strict kosher needs of Israel’s Orthodox population, Tnuva also created a Vaad Mehadrin, which consists of some of the most renowned rabbis in the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) sector.
When Tnuva started rolling out many of its dairy products under the Vaad Mehadrin banner, the company witnessed an immediate spike in sales at local supermarkets.
EYE ON THE UNITED STATES MARKET
Realizing that they had the capacity to expand their operations overseas, Tnuva’s executives turned their attention to the United States. The explosive growth in America’s kosher consumer market piqued Tnuva’s interest. “About three years ago, Tnuva made a decision to expand its operations regarding entering the American kosher food market, which also coincided with the launching of our Alon Tavor dairy facility,” said Yoram Behiri, CEO-Tnuva USA. “Alon Tavor, which has the largest capacity of any dairy production facility in the Middle East, also uses state-of-the-art food technology that is second to none. Once that facility came on-line, we knew that Tnuva had the ability to become a true international company. We believed that we had a lot to offer American consumers. We knew that value for the money is also extremely important to the American consumer. Realizing that we had a long list of high-quality products to offer, we decided to focus on launching a specific variety of products in the United States. Even before we entered the market, Tnuva gave out sample products to food distributors and supermarket managers in order to gauge their reactions.” Once Tnuva’s executives made the decision to launch in the United States, they contacted the OU’s Kosher Division for certification. Working in tandem with Tnuva’s Rav HaMachshir (Certifying Rabbinic Authority) Rabbi Zev Weitman and his American-born assistant Rabbi Yaakov Borow (who once worked in OU’s Kosher Division), the OU and Tnuva formed a harmonious working relationship. Backed by sophisticated marketing and advertising campaigns, Tnuva began to roll out a series of dairy products in major East Coast markets at the end of 2003. The reaction from consumers was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. “The secret to our success in Israel and the U.S. is very simple. You can’t compare the taste of Israel to ANY other taste in the marketplace. And that’s a strong selling point,” Mr. Behiri exclaimed. By early 2005, Tnuva had expanded its market share and product lineup across the U.S. At the present time the Tnuva family of products in America includes: Emek Cheeses (with special Gourmet and Mediterranean Collections) and other assorted dairy staples, including Olivia Gourmet brand salad dressings, spreads and marinades Tnuva Fish (smoked delicacies) Ma’adanot brand frozen bourekas, falafel balls & pastries
TNUVA PASSOVER PREPARATIONS
When it comes to Passover preparations, Israeli companies like Tnuva are involved in a very different ballgame from their American counterparts. Many American kosher companies can make chametz-oriented products and still sell them to non-Jews. The presence of specialized Kosher for Passover only food companies in the United States is almost unheard of in Israel. In Israel, food product companies like Tnuva remove chametz-oriented products from all supermarket shelves for nearly a month (two to three weeks before Passover, plus one week after Passover). In this scenario, a non- Passover product can lose a whole month’s worth of shelf-time! “Preparations for Passover in Tnuva involve changes in every stage of production,” Rabbi Borow reported. “Milk is taken only from farms that have a very fine filter in place to avoid any mixtures of foreign material that could possibly be problematic, even before the milk reaches the storage tanks of the manufacturing plant. Mashgichim (kosher supervisors) check that the filters are in place at each farm and that they are functioning properly. Regarding raw materials added to milk, many ingredients such as enzymes, flavors, preservatives and stabilizers, must be switched for versions that are made under Kosher for Passover conditions. Agreements are made with each supplier as to how the ingredients will arrive for the holiday. Passover mashgichim check the label of each material (or product) to make sure that it is up to Kosher for Passover standards. Finally, Tnuva’s manufacturing facilities undergo a thorough cleansing and koshering before beginning the Passover production lines.” All of Tnuva’s Kosher for Passover products will be specifically marked as such in the United States as well.