Five years ago, Hod Golan formed a partnership with Abeles & Heymann (A&H), a New York-based processor of kosher beef provisions including hot dogs, salami, corned beef and pastrami. Micha Rakaby, president of Hod Golan, was looking for a US company to do private label work for his kosher product line. He approached Seth Leavitt, owner and CEO of Abeles & Heymann, at a trade show and asked if A&H would consider doing the work. Leavitt countered with an offer to become partners instead.
“I wasn’t interested in doing private label work. I was looking for a partner,” Leavitt explains. “I wanted a strategic partner to help me grow my business, and they (Hod Golan) realized they could benefit from a partnership with an American company.”
“We felt that partnering with A&H would allow us to expand our Israeli brand of ready-to-eat (RTE) provisions and secure our distribution chain in the US,” Rakaby explains.
Within six months, they had the paperwork completed and the agreement for the partnership was formed. Hod Golan became the parent company of A&H and Leavitt became the spokesman for the Hod Golan deli brand in the US.
Features and benefits
Maadaney Yehiam, the producer of the Hod Golan brand has an 80,000-sq.-ft. processing and production facility in northern Israel. The company is the third-largest producer of meat and poultry products in Israel. Currently, Israel leads the world in turkey consumption, with every man, woman and child eating an average of 34.5 lbs. of turkey every year. Due to US importing restrictions, Hod Golan only exports its poultry products to the US.
Turkey is the second-most popular deli meat consumed in the US. According to Experian’s Simmons Profile report, 174.93 million lbs. of deli ham were consumed in 2016, and 160.89 million lbs. of deli turkey were eaten in the US.
Hod Golan’s fresh poultry deli meats are certified glatt kosher. Glatt kosher differs from traditional kosher in that the meat must come from an animal with adhesion-free or smooth lungs.
All products are monosodium glutamate free, are 98 percent fat free and gluten free. They are sold in resealable, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) both in institutional sizes that are sold by the pound behind the counter and in retail packages for sale in the deli section of grocery stores and kosher markets.
Another feature and benefit of the Hod Golan products is its shelf life. The deli meats have 150 days of shelf life after they have been delivered to the retailer. “That’s one of the things that differentiates us from our competition,” Leavitt says. “Because of the MAP packaging and the extremely clean process during production, the product is able to have an extremely long shelf life.”
Hod Golan products are sold in 5-lb. bulk deli blocks, 5-oz. pre-packaged retail packs, family packs and 1-lb. mini blocks.
The newest additions to the Hod Golan deli product line include ultra-thin sliced turkey in such flavors as: honey-glazed turkey breast, oven-roasted and grilled turkey breast, Mexican brand smoked turkey breast and original smoked turkey breast. Other products include: oven roasted turkey, oven roasted grilled turkey, smoked turkey, honey-glazed turkey, Italian smoked salami and ultra-thin sliced turkey. There are also family packs of turkey deli meat in oven roasted, Mexican brand smoked and original smoked varieties.
The company also sells some chicken deli products in a variety of thin-sliced flavors, as well as smoked meat snacks including turkey and chicken Cabanossi and salami snacks.
“Hod Golan offers products that are at the height of good taste,” Rakaby says. “We are delighted to offer the complete line of our delicious products to our American glatt kosher and kosher consumers who appreciate our rich Israeli heritage and our unsurpassed taste.”
Beyond the base
The core customers for Hod Golan deli products are kosher consumers. However, in addition to the traditional kosher consumer, Leavitt explains that there are a number of consumers that do not practice kosher eating for traditional reasons, but who consider kosher products to be better and cleaner than other options on the market.
“Kosher is the original clean label,” he explains. “Because of the specific guidelines that kosher products have to adhere to, and the fact that the products can’t contain certain ingredients, many people feel more comfortable buying kosher products. There’s a perception among many consumers that kosher is better. We want to go after that consumer, as well as the traditional kosher consumer.”
In addition to being merchandised in kosher markets, Hod Golan products are sold in large retailers that feature kosher food sections.
“You can find the products at many larger stores like Shop Rite, Winn-Dixie, Ralph’s, Publix and Wal-Mart. Pretty much in any area where there’s a large orthodox kosher population and there’s also a large mainstream grocery store you’ll be able to find our product in the kosher section,” Leavitt says.
However, Hod Golan would like to expand beyond being sold solely in the kosher section of mainstream supermarkets. “We would love to start merchandising the products in the regular deli section too,” Leavitt says. “One of our goals for this year is to cross over into the mainstream market.”
Entering the mainstream market would mean Hod Golan deli turkey products would be sold alongside all national brands in the supermarket deli section. “We have seen a lot of growth in the Hod Golan brand in the US year after year,” Leavitt says. “If we’re able to crossover into conventional deli departments that growth will continue at a much higher rate.”