From Ethnic to Super-Food
Due to its ability to cope with world trends, Israel's food products are in high demand worldwide. After leveraging ethnic food and strengthening the Mediterranean diet, Israel is now focusing in the developing the Foodtech industry combing its advantages in agriculture, food and technology.
Although Israel is recognized worldwide as the "start-up nation", its export to the world - which recently crossed the $100 billion mark - include not only software services and electronic components. In recent years Israel has also been developing the food sector as a prominent export sector and by adhering to the hottest trends in the world`s food scene, it is gradually becoming a leading player in several segments of this growing market.
"The Israeli food manufacturers - known for their innovative spirit - have managed, through recent years, to cope successfully with world trends and they have a lot to offer to the global food market," says Orly Malinboim, Director of the Food and Beverage Sector at the Israel Export Institute, which organizes Israel's national pavilion at the world food exhibition "Anuga" in Germany in early October .
Sixteen Israeli companies will display their products in the exhibition, under the slogan of "Wellness. Quality. Innovation." Among others, Israel's food industry is focused on natural and health products, superfood, food supplements, oils, free-from products, canned pickles and vegetables , honey, jams, and sweet spreads, gourmet seasoning -- all of which will be displayed in the pavilion.
"Israeli food is characterized by being fresh and locally grown, with extensive use of fruits and vegetables and robust flavors. This kind of food appeals to significant segments in the global food market and provides consumers with a broad and diverse range of quality products. This is why we emphasize the advantages of the Israeli food products which combine quality, health and wellness, and are tailor-made products that are perfect for Private Label products", Malinboim adds.
Kosher as Healthy Food
In the past, Israeli food products were mainly aimed at the kosher market, which is consumed mainly by Jews and Muslims and is quantitatively bound. Today, non-Jews discover the benefits of kosher food - some of its products are made without sugar, fat and salt - and consider them as healthy food. This, combined with technological advancement embedded in the products, is appealing to a generation of consumers that emphasizes the consumption of healthy food, or avoids gluten or sugar due to allergic diseases.
"When Israeli food manufacturers realized that they had winning products in their hand, they began to develop additional products, based on the knowledge they have accumulated in the preparation of kosher food", explains Orly Malinboim. "The fact that Israeli products are manufactured according to international standards and are of high quality, also contributes to their advancement in the world".
Another example of leveraging the kosher products is the dairy-free chocolate. In Israel, chocolate of this type is a common product among Orthodox Jews, who obey the kosher laws that separate milk and meat. Around the world, consumers and retailers discovered that dairy-free chocolate can be used as a candy that provides a solution for those who are allergic to milk.
From Ethnic to Healthy
Another process undergone by the Israeli food industry is related to the discovery of the Mediterranean diet, known for its health benefits and as such became very popular in recent years - olive oil, nuts, whole grains, herbs and spices, and even wine. Based on a long tradition of agriculture and local production, and due to the fact that Israel has been a melting pot of diverse communities, the production and consumption of Mediterranean food, specifically Middle Eastern, are a natural reality in Israel. Now it is offered to a world keen to consume healthy and nutritious food.
A good example for this is the tahini - a spread made from roasted sesame seeds - now considered an energy bomb containing many nutritional values. Until recently, the tahini product was not known in the world, although many people eat hummus, one of whose ingredients is raw tahini. In recent years more and more consumers have been exposed to tahini directly and have discovered that it is actually a super-food that contains healthy and harmless fat. This led retails and supermarkets to change the positioning of tahini from ethnic to healthy product.
Aiming at Vegan Consumers
Beyond leveraging and developing existing products, the Israeli export-oriented food industry is also looking ahead. It is currently developing the emerging Foodtech field, which incorporates new technologies in food production to meet the enormous challenges of the global food industry.
An example of this are the newly born companies, which produce alternatives to dairy products destined for the world's fastest growing vegan market. These products are made in traditional processes and pay close attention to the nutritional values of the raw materials. They are based on materials that are naturally rich in nutritional values, such as cereals, especially oatmeal, seeds etc., with no additives, stabilizers and preservatives - excellent for those who avoid milk and dairy products, but are interested in their nutritional value.
Although the products are mainly aimed at vegetarian and vegan consumers, they also turn to the growing market of Flexitarian, who practice a semi-vegetarian diet. In the United States, for example, about a third of the public already defines itself as Flexitarian.
Focusing on R&D
According to some experts, the Israeli Foodtech industry is still in its infancy, but it is in an excellent position to make a huge leap. They refer to the fact that Israel is developing a substantial Foodtech eco-system that combines its capabilities in the fields of food, agriculture and technology. The result of this effort, supported by the government, is the future development of revolutionary food products.
"The Israeli food industry enjoys a number of outstanding advantages", concludes Orly Malinboim. "It addresses distinct segments of the world market and addresses emerging trends among consumers worldwide by producing meatless, sugar free, organic, and other specialty foods, while placing a heavy emphasis on research and development. The willingness of Israeli companies to meet client specifications make Israel an excellent source for private label goods. Under these conditions we expect the Israeli food industry to continue to prosper in the coming decade and to increase its share of total Israeli exports abroad".