Milk + chocolate + coffee = the Strauss Group. A blending of confectionery company Elite Industries and dairy player Strauss Fresh Foods resulted in an operation that makes and sells a variety of retail food products, including fresh foods (dairy, salads, precut vegetables), beverages (coffee, chocolate, juices), and snacks (candy, cookies, salty items). The company's coffee and chocolate business was so dominant in Israel that it turned to international markets for growth and it is now a player worldwide. Indeed, Strauss is the world's fifth-largest coffee company. Strauss Group (formerly Strauss-Elite) owns coffee businesses in Brazil and is a leading coffee provider in central and eastern Europe.
In addition to Israel, Strauss products are available in about 20 other countries around the world, including in Poland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Romania, Russia, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, and the US. Strauss Group is expanding into China with help from Haier, a Chinese home electronics maker. Strauss and Haier have inked a joint venture agreement to form Haier Strauss Water, which will offer high-quality drinking water in China in 2011. As part of the agreement, each company will invest $10 million and hold a 50% stake in the venture. Strauss will supply the water through an entity named Strauss Water and Haier will provide distribution and sales services.
The company's Brazilian arm bought Brazil's #2 coffee maker Fino Grao for 70 million Shekels ($20 million) in mid-2011. The purchase included roast and ground coffee, as well as cappuccino and espresso products. The deal, which is the latest in a string of acquisitions that have expanded the global footprint of its coffee business, is expected to boost Strauss's position in Brazil. Strauss acquired the Russian coffee company, Cosant Enterprises, for $93 million in 2008, adding the Chornaya Karta and Kaffa brands to its holdings; it also acquired Italian coffee company Doncaft's operations in Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia for about $11.7 million. Funding for its coffee acquisitions were helped by private investment firm Texas Pacific Group, which in 2008 acquired a 25% interest in the Strauss coffee operations for $288 million. In 2010 it acquired Russia's LeCafe brand.
Through its Max Brenner subsidiary, Strauss also operates two dozen retail confectionery stores and chocolate bars (six in Israel, 14 in Australia, two each in the US and the Philippines, and one in Singapore).
As part of a plan to increase its fresh salad and dip business, Strauss formed a 50-50 joint venture with PepsiCo's Frito-Lay, to operate Sabra Dipping, a US maker of hummus, dips, babaganoush spreads, and Mediterranean salsas. In fall 2010, Sabra Dipping expanded its refrigerated salads business in North America by buying the refrigerated salsa and dips business of California Creative Foods in a deal valued at $33 million. Building on Sabra's success -- the joint venture's revenues totaled $159 million in 2010 (about a 45% increase from the previous year) -- PepsiCo and Strauss are extending their cooperation to markets outside of North America.
The company changed its name to the Strauss Group in 2007 to reflect the corporate identity it had achieved, starting with increased international presence and its 2003 Strauss/Elite merger. – less