Booming chocolate demand in Israel is attracting international confectionary manufacturers such as Kraft Foods Inc. and Nestlé SA, with the small but growing market giving corporates an extra benefit: a gateway into the Middle East.
With demand in the traditionally strong markets such as the U.S. and Europe remaining slack during the economic downturn, chocolate companies are looking for new pockets of consumption.
Although Israel represents only 1.5% of global demand, the nation’s chocolate market is forecast to grow at a rate of 5%-10% in value terms this year, having grown by almost 40% over the last five years in the same terms, according to the U.K.’s Leatherhead Food Research. Jonathan Thomas, analyst at Leatherhead, said Kraft and Nestlé have already begun to target the Israeli market, allowing them a gateway to the more buoyant Middle East region from a strategic geographical point of view. Last month, Nestlé stepped up its investment in Israeli food maker Osem Investments Ltd., buying a further 4.99% stake to take its total holding to 58.76%. Nestlé has been a controlling shareholder in Osem, which produces packaged cakes, salads and other food products for the Israeli and global markets, since 1995. Meanwhile, Kraft Foods Israel said it extended its product line range in the country during 2011, predominantly through its Milka brand. The company also said its long-term plan is to grow its Israeli business with Milka and other products.
“The growth in Israeli chocolate consumption has been fueled by two main factors—health and indulgence,” said Ika Cohen, owner of Ika chocolate boutique in Tel Aviv. “Both factors have had an extremely positive impact on chocolate sales despite the global economic downturn.”
The growth in demand for chocolate, made predominantly from cocoa, comes at a time of rising consumption for other soft commodities.
“There is a strong relationship between growing GDP and the consumption of cocoa-related products, generally first powder, and then butter,” said Keith Flury, senior soft commodities analyst at Rabobank. “Companies see a growing nation like Israel and want to sell them consumer goods such as cereal and ice cream, both of which increase cocoa demand.”
Israel’s GDP grew 3.2% in the last three months of 2011, according to data from the central statistics office. For 2012, Israel’s central bank expects GDP to increase 4.2%, up from an expectation announced in March of 4%. But the bank said these forecast increases depend on stability in Israel’s geopolitical situation and continued global economic recovery. Another factor supporting the success of international confectionary companies in the Israeli market concerns recent allegations the country’s market leader, Strauss Group Ltd., has been overcharging for its products, according to Leatherhead’s Mr. Thomas. This month, Strauss was reported by a consumer group to Israel’s antitrust authorities for overcharging for its chocolate.
“If more consumers turn away from the market leader Strauss to international confectionary companies, these international entrants will see this as an opportunity to invest and acquire market share,” said Mr. Thomas.
But risks remain. Meir Slater, analyst at Israel’s DS Invest, warned worsening political instability in the Middle East could put off investors from moving into Israel medium-term.
“Certainly political instability shall deter investors from moving into the chocolate sector,” Mr. Slater said. “Not only in the chocolate sector, but in any field.”
By Reuters Even though he declared from the stage of Tel Aviv’s Mann Auditorium in 2008 that he gained five pounds “eating my way through Jaffa,” Rufus Wainwright will be returning to Israel in June.
The 39-year-old eclectic singer/songwriter, who sold out two solo shows on his first visit here, will be coming back with a full band to perform on June 3 at Ronit Farm, a amphitheater near Kibbutz Ga’ash. There will be special VIP tickets on sale, enabling access to a VIP lounge and to an after-party with a DJ and special guests.
The show will be part of a world tour launched following the release later this month of Wainwright’s seventh studio album, Out of the Game, produced by Mark Ronson (of Amy Winehouse fame). Wainwright has called it “the most pop album I’ve ever made” and features guest appearances by Wilco’s Nels Cline, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner, Sean Lennon and Wainwright’s sister Martha.
Wainwright is the son of two prominent folk singers from the 1970s – Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, and is considered one of the significant singer/songwriters to emerge in the past 15 years.
Under the banner, ‘Every Child Can’, children from the scout movement together with autistic elementary school kids held an event to celebrate the differences and uniqueness of each autistic child.
Alut — The Israeli Society for Autistic Children hosted the event.
Israel is a leader in research in the field. The new global headquarters of ICare4autism, the world’s first global center for autism research and education, is scheduled to open in 2014 on the Mt. Scopus campus in Jerusalem.
“Millions of people are still suffering from autism,” Dr. Joshua Weinstein, Founder and President of ICare4Autism told ISRAEL21c. “And there are more people aware of autism today than 10 years ago, thanks to different education programs. We plan on integrating all the systems that work.”
Researchers from around the world are expected to come to Jerusalem this summer for the ICare4Autism International Autism Conference in August.
However, a special announcement from Israel’s ministry of health this morning says that a review of the product found that it contains chemicals which are similar to those in Viagra, the pills which are used for treating men with erectile dysfunction. This chemical (sildenafil) is forbidden for people who suffer from changes in blood pressure or heart disease, as it expands blood vessels. Side effects include headaches, extended heart rate, and insomnia.
The Israeli ministry of health also announced that they are going to forward their lab results to the American FDA, as this product is an import from the US. “The active material in this product can cause death,” says Miki Arieli from the Israeli Ministry of Health.
by ‘Canadian Ginger’ (AKA D’vora Charness)
I was always told that in order to prepare for a trip everything must be done and taken care of within the week of leaving, especially if it’s a trip overseas. So I thought I was being really good the week before I left to Montreal for Passover vacation. I got all the forms I needed to fill out done, I got my banking all sorted, I bought everything I needed ect. My flight back to Montreal was at 7am on Thursday morning, meaning I had to leave my apartment at 3 in order to make sure I was on time to be at Ben Gurion Airport by 4. I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Got in line to the check in counter. In Israel before you are able to reach the counter, there are always airport security personnel there asking you questions and checking your passport. They ask questions like where do you live, where are you going, do you speak Hebrew…typical airport stuff. This time she took one look at my passport and said “umm you know this expired a week ago right?” Now because I am an Israeli citizen I am only able to leave and return to the country with my Israeli passport. So when I offered her my Canadian passport she said that won’t work.
At this point I am freaking out and she leaves with my Israeli passport. I am standing in Ben Gurion Airport, bags packed and ready to go to Montreal WITH NO PASSPORT! As I am alone I find it appropriate to burst into tears and play the “dumb Canadian” card so as to get some help. And it worked! The woman came back and told me I had to go upstairs to the Ministry of Interior and they would sort out a new passport for me. Surprisingly it was open at 4am and an even better surprise that for the first time since moving to Israel I didn’t have to wait in line for an hour to get something done!! 350 shekels (about 100$) later I was given a sticker in my passport as an extension for 2 years and I was on my way back to Montreal! It is FREEZING here might I add!!!