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Some big Israeli FF firms struggle, but innovative entrepreneurs bloom.

Some Big Israeli FF Firms Struggle, But Innovative Entrepreneurs Bloom

Reports of troubles at Sunfrost, Israel's largest frozen food manufacturer, have been greatly exaggerated. That was the response of Managing Director Avi Margalit to press dispatches maintaining that the Ashdod-based company was fighting for its life last fall as cost-cutting labor layoffs were met with a strike which reportedly left a plant under a state of seige.

However, the managing director shed different light on the matter when contacted by Quick Frozen Foods International: "Sunfrost is in full operation, successful and profitable. We're fighting for higher profit, not for our lives."

He could not say the same about a number of the company's rivals. "Unfortunately, all our competition is bankrupt or close to it," declared Margalit. "Goldfrost lost about $5 million last year. Milouot is under bank supervision with a loss of $150 million, and Pri Haemek was closed and resold."

Reports received by QFFI in December revealed that Koor Industries was in the process of unloading its Goldfrost production facilities, along with other assets, as part of a planned sale $130 million worth of plants.

Described as a recovery program, the action is allegedly in response to a suit filed by Bankers Trust of America seeking Koor's liquidation to satisfy debt repayment. The fate of the company could rest in the outcome of the court case.

Meanwhile, Sunfrost continues its drive to carve out new overseas markets after recently becoming a certified supplier to Sainsbury's, a leading British supermarket chain. Also winning a major export market was Off Tov, a Beit Shean-headquartered frozen chicken specialist. It has been accredited as an official poultry supplier to United States military installations in Europe.

New on the Off Tov product list are chicken balls that look and taste like felafel, a ground chick peas-based snack popular with children. The kosher item can be heated or even eaten from the freezer after defrosting.

After last year's foundering of Hod Avaz, a leading frozen goose liver, goose meat and turkey meat producer, more poultry packers went belly up. Among them was Off Ha Negev. With the other near-casualties were the companies Mili and Milouot complex in Western Galilee -- which export convenience meals and frozen turkey and chicken dishes. Milouot, said to be in severe financial difficulties at one point, has undertaken an efficiency plan to regroup.

But not all was bleak on the poultry beat as innovation continued to pay off. Because beefsteak is expensive in Israel, chicken producers are inventing new kinds of steak. M&S Meat Products has developed round cuts of chicken meat on the bone, similar in appearance to steak. Also, Tnuva has brought out a turkey steak composed of turkey dark meat on the bone. These products are much cheaper than beefsteak.

Galilee Poultry Ltd. of Kiryat Shemone has begun producing microwaveable pre-cooked chicken meals in a special patented vegetable coating. Some such dishes include chicken breast cutlets filled with pastrami, as well as with tomatoes. Other products are formed chicken slices filled with tomato sauce, chicken escalopes in breadcrumbs, whole breast slices, chicken nuggets and drumsticks.

Fresh-frozen Barbary duck is also exported by Galilee Poultry, along with dishes including duckling, drumsticks, breast fillets, shishlik, wings, roll, hearts, gizzards and liver.

A relative newcomer to the Israeli Ff scene is Tivall of Kibbutz Lohamei Getaot. Targeting meat substitute buyers, the packer sells soya and wheat-based vegetable proteins, sausages, vegetable patties, hamburgers, veg-mince, cutlets and kebabs.

The U.S. and Holland rank among the company's top export markets. Sold under the Garden Gourmet label in the States, the product line is largely distributed to catering chain operations and institutional consumers on the East and West Coasts, according to Geze Kaplan, general manager.

In Holland, which is regarded as a "million dollar market," the approach is different. There the frozen products are defrosted and placed in the meat sections of Dutch supermarkets. While the shelf life is only four days for thawed-out items, so far this has not been a problem.

Also active in the vegetarian frozen foods business is Nella Foods, which has brought out a domestic dietetic line of meat substitutes and various stuffings and sauces. Among them is Veg-Meatballs in Tomato Sauce. Sold in Israeli supermarkets and health food stores, the range is likely to be exported in the near future.

Tsimhon is a new label for frozen vegetarian schnitzels and small sesame-coated snacks. Manufactured by Meir Ezra and Sons, its low calorie product range features no cholesterol, preservatives or food coloring.

General Frost, a relative newcomer to the domestic FF retail trade, has brought out a series of "Pashtidor"--the Hebrew term for vegetable casseroles. These dishes make use of spinach, mushroom and spaghetti recipes.

Other players in the Israeli frozen vegetable field include Gat Food Canneries, Pri Tiam Ltd., Galilee Fruits Ltd., and Tapud.

Nel, Maadanot Frozen Chinese Delicacies, and Jasmin Foods are among the new "foreign food" manufacturers setting up shop. Nel makes vegetarian pizzas which are free of preservatives, chemicals and artificial colorings. Among its offerings is a large pizza variety and a basket of five individual pizzas. The company also produces main dishes such as Sole Florentine and Vegetarian Lasagna.

An initial shipment of 75,000 pizzas had been sent to the U.S. by Maadanot, the Herzliya factory that specializes in baked goods. Formulated to appeal to children, the products were first tested for suitability in the American market.

Israel Keniger, general manager of Maadanot, said that the order proves a growing demand exists for kosher foods in the States. Perceived as a purer standard for preparation, this kosher preference is trending toward Gentiles as well as Jews, according to Keniger.

Frozen Chinese Delicacies puts out 14 different classic Chinese foods prepared by Thai and Filipino chefs. The products contain no MSG or other additives. Dishes include Sesame Chicken Breasts, Szechuan Beef, and a Sweet and Sour Chicken, Rice and Eggroll dinner.

Jasmin Foods also specializes in oriental fare. Eastern-style Burghul and Rice with Raisins and Spices are among the Jerusalem packer's newly introduced products.
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Title Annotation:frozen foods
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jan 1, 1989
Previous Article:Statistics show surprising twists, turns in Japanese FF production, consumption.
Next Article:New trends in vegetables overshadowed by impact of drought on global trade.

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