Osem CEO dreams of Bamba in every US supermarket

Avi Ben Assayag Photo: Shany Moses

Osem has inaugurated a Bamba factory in Kiryat Gat at a cost of NIS 200 million.

"Our dream is for every US supermarket to offer Bamba," Osem-Nestle CEO Avi Ben Assayag said at the opening of the group's new factory in Kiryat Gat. He added that Osem-Nestle had begun selling Bamba this month to US chain Walmart, and hoped to expand to other retail chains in the US and Europe.

The new plant, Osem-Nestle's third in Kiryat Gat, was built at a cost of NIS 200 million. It covers 16,000 square meters and will employ 150 workers. A new visitors center will open this year nearby the plant.

"With the factory we are inaugurating today, we will be able to double production capacity and supply demand in Israel and emerging demand for Bamba in the US," Ben Assayag commented.

In the first stage, the plant will enable Osem-Nestle to increase its production capacity to one million bags a day, and later to 1.5 million bags.

The new factory will be part of Osem-Nestle's facilities in Kiryat Gat, which include the already operating Sabra (Tzabar) Salads and Bonjour factories. Osem will now have 600 employees in the city and the surrounding area.

Osem-Nestle has been marketing its products to the kosher food market in the US and Europe through Osem US and Osem UK. Marketing of Bamba to US retain chains outside the kosher market began in 2018. After beginning Bamba sales to Walmart, Osem-Nestle will begin supplying Bamba to additional retail and pharmacy chains in the US in the coming months.

Bamba, a snack food, is arousing particular interest in North America, after the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended it in January 2017 for babies with allergic tendencies as preventative exposure in order to reduce the risk of developing an allergy to peanuts. NIH specifically mentioned Bamba as a good product for such exposure. The US Food and Drug Administration then authorized marking products containing peanuts with this recommendation.

Ben Assayag also referred to Nestle's involvement in construction of the new factory, saying, "The way Nestle is accompanying the planning process for the plant, and its substantial investment in it, shows the strong commitment by Osem and Nestle, and Nestle's great trust in Osem. This ensures the continued development of the industry in Israel and the positioning of Osem as one of Nestle's leading organizations in the world."

Osem-Nestle chair person Dan Propper said at the ceremony, "When we invented Bamba 55 years ago, we did not imagine that it would become the most popular snack in Israel and also arouse great interest overseas. Bamba has been renewed constantly over the years, and the baby that became an Israeli icon is an enormous success in Israel and abroad. We are today inaugurating a new factory and putting into practice Osem and Nestle's commitment to invest in the development of industry in Israel, and to increase worldwide sales of Bamba."

Those attending the ceremony included Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen, Manufacturers Association of Israel president Shraga Brosh, and Kiryat Gat Mayor Aviram Dahari.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 19, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

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Avi Ben Assayag Photo: Shany Moses
Avi Ben Assayag Photo: Shany Moses
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