September 14, 2009

Sabra in Major Effort to Take its Kosher ÒHummusÓ National

New York…Not since the bagel has there been an effort to take a kosher staple national. The product is Sabra’s Hummus (or chumus as many kosher consumers pronounce it), which for the first time is being advertised on TV and positioned as a Mediterranean food. Sabra is partially owned by Frito-Lay, a unit of PepsiCo, which formed a joint venture with the Strauss Group in 2007. The ad seeks to make Americans feel that they can take a Mediterranean vacation simply by enjoying hummus and wine. A New York ad agency is coordinating the campaign which also includes print and on-line ads. In the past two years, Sabra has made an effort to broaden its distribution and has even become a staple at several major airports. Sales of chumus are said to have more than doubled in the last five years in the kosher market. In addition to Sabra, several other kosher salad manufacturers market chumus as do many restaurants and gourmet stores who prepare the chumus (made from chick peas) without adding the preservatives to prolong shelf life. Chumus is said to use "healthier oils" than most snacks and contains no trans fats. "We hope to spark a movement through this campaign inspiring consumers to experience the world through the sounds, cultures and foods of the world right in their own homes," said Rodrigo Troni, CMO of Sabra Dipping Co., in a written statement. Few ethnic kosher food companies embark on a costly national TV campaign, although in the past such brands as Manischewitz, Empire, Gold’s and Baron Herzog have advertised locally on mainstream media. Gold’s is currently advertising its horseradish on radio in advance of Rosh Hashanah. The unprecedented national media effort by Sabra will be closely watched by other kosher food companies with products that may have national appeal.

Idele Ross, Middle Eastern Bureau Chief for KosherToday reports that North American food executives from Pepsi-Frito Lay recently joined their Strauss Group counterparts for a tour of chumus eateries around Israel. Ofra Strauss, Strauss Group CEO and other senior management took Frito Lay North American CEO Al Carey and executives from Sabra Salads (jointly owned by Strauss and Frito Lay) on a countrywide chumus tasting tour. The guests also attended a breakfast class with a popular Israeli chef and visited Strauss Group factories and toured various Mediterranean restaurants as part of the program to inspire further development in the US.