So are we rapidly approaching the day when most Israeli mega food companies will not even be Israeli? Nestle already owns a sizable share of Osem and PepsiCo a major stake in Strauss. Now comes word that China’s Bright Food Group is in talks to buy Tnuva Food Industries. Could you imagine an Israeli food company owned by a Chinese company?
It may indeed be the days of the Moshiach (Messiah). Bright Food has over 3,300 retail stores across China and is known in the country for its dairy and White Rabbit candy. It is on a global buying spree and has bought majority holdings in Australia’s Manassen Foods and UK cereal maker Weetabix. Tnuva is Israel's largest food company and according to controlling shareholder Apax Partners LLP, the company holds 14% of Israel's food retail shelf space. Apax and investment partner Mivtach Shamir Food Industries Ltd. (TASE:SHAM) acquired a 77% stake in Tnuva for more than $1 billion in 2008. I can already see a session between the two companies where the Tnuva people are explaining their different kashrus standards.
But as usual, there are so many ways to look at this possible acquisition. One is that Israeli companies have been so successful in producing and marketing quality food that they have attracted international attention. It is a tribute to the Israelis that some of the largest and most powerful food conglomerates are looking to gain a piece of the action and apply some of the unique Israeli technology and success to their efforts worldwide. Second is that the Israelis are securing an infusion of capital to further develop their economy. So much for the positive. My question is how will Israelis feel when they eat the Chinese Leben or drink the milk at breakfast. Maybe they won’t so long as the products are good and kosher.