Israel’s Export and International Cooperation Institute sponsored the visit, which included a trip to the Weizmann Technology Park, and specifically, to Herbamed Ltd. www.herbamed.com, a producer of energy/meal supplement/replacement bars. I’ll note that this technology park is a multi-facility research center, where—in a nation with more scientists per capita than any on earth—you’ll find the highest concentration of Ph.D.s in one place and across every discipline.

With Herbamed, this includes top-flight nutrition biochemists. The team there created Co-Q10-enhanced endurance bars originally designed to keep Israel’s elite commandos from suffering muscle fatigue, plus similar supplement-enhanced fruit & nut bars targeting better performance for cycling, running or just being a stay-at-home parent handling a bunch of rowdy kids.

[Editor’s note: Click here to catch a 2-minute video interview with Alon Nahoum, Ph.D., CEO of Herbamed Ltd. or go to here.]

At the Galam Group www.galam.co.il, it was enlightening to see how this multinational sweetener and starch manufacturer has grown not only in its core business of glucose, fructose and starches but embraced trends by developing formulations of stevia that compete on levels of quality, purity and sustainability. It has become one of the few companies in the world to extract and purify the natural, zero-cal super-sweetener using only water and membrane technology.

The company also took NutriGal (www.nutrigal-galam.com) under its wing to provide a gluten-free soy protein-fiber combo that also uses a water-extraction/air-dried process for a non-GMO, 100% natural, sustainably farmed (and 150 tons/yr. of the ingredient are even organic) product. Some versions of the ingredient are gluten free to less than 5ppm, and because it has no off taste, it needs no maskers. The company also has successfully developed an extruded soy product for snacks; it unusually high in fiber and so high in satiety, too (based on preliminary research).

These are part of the arsenal of ingredients manufacturers of gluten-free products are using to keep up with the massive demand for foods—especially baked products—without gluten. Although only a small percentage of people have gluten allergies, about ten times as many consumers are favoring a gluten-free diet for a number of reasons, whether medically diagnosed or otherwise.

Eli Faraggi, the young CEO of Inno-Bev Ltd. www.drinkwakeup.com popped by to visit us. He was very energetic—likely from the natural energy beverage called WakeUp! , which he manufactures for all of us overworked types suffering from daily “post-lunch dip”—or as the company literature calls it, “PLD.” The half-cup portion, housed in a bottle that allegedly can become a nervous energy-expending game (flicking the upside-down bottle with just the right amount of force causes it to right itself), derives its oomph from guarana and gingko biloba, plus it’s sweetened with apple sugar and flavored with elderberry flower.

It’s an innovative product, but its marketing—as something companies will place in their commissaries and cafes—is what’s really clever. (In fact, as of August, Google Israel now offers its employees WakeUp! in the company dining room after lunch.)

Few non-Hebrew speakers know that the word “paradise” comes from the Hebrew word for fruit groves, pardes. The Jaffa orange might be a thing of the past, but Israel still knows its way around a fruit tree and the Gan Shmuel Group www.ganshmuel.com might be one of the biggest companies in its field you never heard of. It creates, manufactures, distributes and sells nearly $300 million/year of ingredients and commodities from citrus, tomatoes and other fruits. It has one of the largest aseptic installations in the world and was the first to start with aseptic-packaging of citrus products, mostly co-manufactured.

But even the simplicity of its grapefruit juice and pomegranate juice cocktail beverages is worth noting. Juice companies love to tell you their product “tastes fresh squeezed” but even when that’s all that’s in the bottle, they won’t compare in a blind taste test. Gan Shmuel’s will, though. As a teen a century or two ago, I picked grapefruit on a kibbutz in Israel. I know the taste of fresh grapefruit juice and this is the real deal. One suggestion for their R&D team: When I got to the hotel with the sample bottles, I mixed the fresh grapefruit 1:1 with the pomegranate.
The result absolutely should be its own product. I’m just sayin’…

Our tour also included a quick visit to Gan Shmuel’s competitor, Gat Foods/PriGat Ltd. www.prigat.com, the tree-to-shelf Coca Cola Israel subsidiary that makes juices and juice-based beverages. The company also makes juice concentrates for flavorants and sugar reduction systems. They’ve had one of the better success stories in breaking into the U.S. retail market, and their juice beverages now can be found in nearly every supermarket in the country.

[Editor’s note: Click here to catch a 2-minute video interview with Tali Berner, Food Technologist for Gat Foods Ltd. or go to here.]

Even encapsulated supplements get clever makeovers by Israel’s forward-thinking R&D community. Anlit Ltd. came by to show off its latest in supplements designed for toddlers. The company, with facilities throughout Europe and Asia, manufactures and markets dietary supplements for children, including Yomi, the top best-selling brand for jelly bears (teddy bear-shaped chewable supplements) and soft crème bears. Sixty percent of Anlit was acquired by giant Ma’abarot Products Ltd. a few years ago, helping to fuel its rapid expansion.

Galilee Nutritionals www.galileenutritionals.com is an Israeli start-up that’s gone biblical on the supplement theme. The company uses its team of doctors, biochemists and dietitians to create pure nutraceutical ingredients from Israel and sources mentioned in the bible, such as olives, grapes, pomegranate. They expand this core to include ultra-high quality omega oils and vitamins and minerals.

Galilee Nutritionals was founded by David Hart, a Californian who emigrated to Israel in 2000 and began working for some of Israel’s leading nutraceutical ingredient companies. His work in the field gave him unique insight into the global obesity epidemic and, he notes, his life as an Israeli in the land that has such deep connection to Christians and Jews contributed to “a strong commitment to supporting the community.” Ten percent of Galilee Nutritionals’ profits are tithed in Israel and the U.S., with customers designating a portion of the donation to organizations of their own choice.

Look for Part Three of this series soon, where I’ll highlight the rest of the companies we visited. I’ll also clue you in to some great restaurants to visit should you be lucky enough to visit the Holy Land yourself. Also, be sure to look on our Website for more of our series of short, 1- to 2-minute video interviews conducted with some of the hosts of this Israeli industries tour.