The Jewish state’s renowned “start-up nation” mentality isn’t just confined to creating cyber-security, med-tech or software solutions. During the past 70 years, Israel’s burgeoning food and wine industries have quietly revolutionized product development, which has enabled both Israeli and global consumers to enjoy the very best that the Land of Milk and Honey has to offer.
The growth of Israel’s food tech industry has spurred both the private and government sectors to invest in food tech start-up hubs and research institutes. Recently, the Israeli government earmarked $27 million dollars to the city of Kiryat Shmona in Northern Israel to establish a food tech start-up accelerator and national research facility. The popular Israeli business newspaper Calcalist, along with Tnuva and the world-renowned Technion, are launching a food tech competition in the coming weeks for start-ups who wish to “influence the future of the food industry.”
Two of Israel’s most advanced food and wine companies, who have already established themselves in the international food marketplace, Tnuva and the Golan Heights Winery, are continually upgrading their technological capabilities and facilities.
Tnuva, the largest kosher dairy in Israel and the largest kosher food manufacturer in the world, debuted its new Tel Yosef dairy manufacturing facility at a cost of over $80 million dollars. Because of its cutting-edge automation and robotics, the facility has been lionized as one of the most advanced in the world.
The Golan Heights Winery has changed the way consumers have viewed Israeli-made wines by winning a large number of medals in international competitions. According to Golan Heights’ legendary chief winemaker, Victor Schoenfeld, there are several keys to their success, which start in the vineyards.
“There has been a huge revolution in agricultural technology that we have been implementing in our vineyards over the years. With the increase in power of computing, with global positioning satellites, with the increase of plant, soil and weather sensors, we have been able to greatly increase our understanding of our natural conditions and the vineyards’ reaction to those conditions,” revealed Schoenfeld. “The increase of computing power, along with the ability to know precise global positioning, has led to the rise of mapping as a basic tool. We can map soil characteristics, various vine performance characteristics, leading to a much greater spatial understanding of our vineyards. The bottom line is that these tools [have] allowed us to continue to increase grape and wine quality at an impressive pace. In terms of technology in the winery, the biggest revolution has been the introduction of optical sorting of grapes, which replaced the much slower and less consistent hand sorting we did until five years ago. This allows us to sort out the grapes that could bring down wine quality, especially on our highest-end wines. And while the percent of rejected berries may be low, usually under 10 percent, these berries can have an exaggerated detrimental effect on wine quality. So to be able to do this important task efficiently and consistently is a huge advantage.”
Tnuva’s Tel Yosef dairy is the product of “230 years of engineering experience.” A Tnuva executive added, “This facility, which has been built with some of the world’s most advanced technologies, allows us to produce a wide array of dairy cheese products to meet all of our consumers demands.”
The Tel Yosef facility currently produces 1 billion slices of yellow cheese a year—50,000 slices per hour! The cheeses are sent to 100 different suppliers and distributors in 10 different countries, including North America and the UK.
Tnuva has also used its food technologies and culinary experts to increase the number of products that are kosher for Passover, as well as gradually reducing the salt content in a growing number of dairy cheese products based on changing consumer health and lifestyle patterns in Israel and around the globe.
“As the world’s largest manufacturer of high-quality kosher products, Tnuva’s culinary and technological experts are always paying close attention to both consumer food and lifestyle trends,” said Yoram Behiri, president of TnuvaUSA. “Because of our elite standards of kashrus, we also invest time and effort to secure the finest new ingredients that we can incorporate into the many different lines of products, from the latest new flavors for dairy products to our expanding line of easy-to-use frozen pastries.”
Ironically, it isn’t unusual these days to see Golan Heights Winery and Tnuva products served up together at family occasions, business events and ritzy wine and cheese soirees in America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and of course…Israel. Golan Heights Winery’s Yarden, Gamla and Hermon brands are sold in over 30 countries around the globe, while a big portion of its exports are also found in some of the most high-end restaurants and leading wine stores around the globe. Pretty amazing for an Israeli winery.
Yael Gai, the winery’s international sales and marketing manager boasted, “No winery has had or continues to have a larger impact on the Israeli wine industry than the Golan Heights Winery.”
By Ken Stephens