Strauss (company)

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Strauss Group Ltd.
Type Public
Traded as TASESTRS
Industry Food processing, beverages
Founded 1933
Founders Richard Strauss (Strauss), Eliyahu Fromenchenko & Mara Moshvitz (Elite)
Headquarters Petah Tikva, Israel
Area served Israel, Brazil, North America, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia
Key people Ofra Strauss, Chairwoman of Board, Gadi Lesin President & CEO
Products Dairy products Coffee, Chocolate, Mediterranean dips
Revenue Increase  6,245.9 million (2008)
Operating income Increase  688.6 million (2008)
Net income Increase  507.3 million (2008)
Employees 13,000
Subsidiaries Elite, Max Brenner, Tana Industries, Grupo Santa Clara participações, Sabra, Tami4
Website www.strauss-group.com
Elite factory, Ramat Gan
Strauss-Elite's factory in Nazareth Illit

Strauss Group Ltd. (Hebrew: שטראוס‎) formerly known as Strauss-Elite (Hebrew: שטראוס עלית‎), is a food products manufacturer in Israel. It is the shared trademark of two companies – Strauss and Elite, that merged in 2004. Strauss focuses mostly on dairy products while Elite focuses on chocolate, coffee, and dry snack foods.[1]

History[edit]

History of Strauss[edit]

Strauss was founded in the 1930s as a commercial dairy by Richard and Hilda Strauss, German Jewish immigrants from Nieder-Olm who moved to Nahariya at the time of the British Mandate of Palestine. At first, the milking business wasn't successful enough so they started making cheese, which did become successful. In the 1950s, Strauss grew and began focusing on ice cream products, with about 50 employees in their Nahariya factory.

In 1969, after Groupe Danone purchased a part of the company's ownership, Strauss expanded from ice cream manufacture and began producing puddings and other individual packaged dairy desserts, the most popular of which was "Dani" and about 15 years later, "Milky". In 1975, Michael Strauss, son of the founders, became the CEO of the company.

In 1995, the company went into the prepared salads business. The Strauss hummus brand, "Achla", became very popular in Israel. In 1997, the company purchased 50% of the ownership of the Yotvata dairy. The same year, Strauss purchased Elite and grew to over 7000 employees and a US$1 billion/year turnover (though the formal merger between the companies occurred only in 2004). In 2001, Ofra Strauss, Michael's daughter, became the CEO of the company.

Strauss was labeled by the Israel Antitrust Authority as a monopoly in 2004,[2] a status that essentially places the company under government regulation limiting the way it can change the price of its products to protect the consumer and smaller competitors.

History of Elite[edit]

Eliyahu Fromenchenko (also spelled Fromchenko), a Russian Jew, with his family launched a candy business in 1918 after preparing confections in his home kitchen. Fleeing the economic and political chaos that followed the rise of Communism in the Soviet Union, he moved to Latvia and founded a new company, Laima, in Riga. In 1933, after the Nazis came to power, Fromenchenko sold Laima and immigrated to Palestine,[3] bought property in Ramat Gan and opened Elite. Production began in the spring of 1934, with the first product reaching the stores in time for Passover.[4] The most popular brand was Shokolad Para (cow chocolate), whose name came from the image of the cow on the packaging. As the company grew, factories were opened in Safed and Nazareth Illit. In 1958, Elite launched Israel's first coffee company. Its major competition both for chocolates and coffee was Lieber, which it bought out in March 1970.[5] In 1982, Elite launched its popular Pesek Zman line of chocolate bars.[6]

The Israeli snack food market had been traditionally divided by Elite in the sweets market and Osem in the salty market. In 1991, Elite decided to expand by entering the salty snack market by establishing a new factory in Sderot and specifically producing 'Shush', a copy of the Bamba snack, the most popular snack in Israel made by Osem. Elite became the local licensee of Frito-Lay products, producing the best-selling brand 'Tapuchips'. Later, Elite started selling coffee outside of Israel, especially in Europe and South America. The initiative, Café 3 Corações, did not reach its objectives, but it signaled Elite's start as an international company.

Similar to Strauss, Elite was also labeled a monopoly by the Israel AntiTrust Authority, in Elite's case the instant coffee, black coffee and chocolate fields.[7][8] In 2006, Elite paid 5 million NIS to the country without admitting to these allegations.

History since merger[edit]

Strauss and Elite merged in 2004 under the name "Strauss-Elite". In 2007, they renamed the entire company to Strauss.

Strauss Ice Cream is not included in the Strauss Group portfolio and has remained under private ownership, with 51% of the company owned by Unilever, and 49% owned by the Strauss family. Strauss ice creams are marketed under Unilever's "Heartbrand" in Israel and North America (the latter as a concession to the brand's kosher certification and the substantial observant Jewish market in the US and Canada).

International activity[edit]

Strauss-Elite is the largest coffee company in Central and Eastern Europe.[9]

It owns the Max Brenner chain of chocolate cafes, with stores in Australia, Israel, United States, Philippines and Singapore.[10]

In 2005, Strauss-Elite acquired control of the New York-based Sabra food producing company.

In December 2005, Strauss-Elite merged its coffee activity with Santa Clara Indústria e Comércio de Alimentos in Brazil. The merged company, Santa Clara Participações, is the second largest coffee manufacturer in Brazil.

Strauss-Elite has been found to charge more for their products in Israel than for the same products exported to other countries.[11] In response to consumer complaints, supermarkets have moved up their annual Purim sale prices on Strauss candies.[12]

References[edit]

External links[edit]