A look inside Ben & Jerry’s Is­raeli fac­tory

The Be’er Tu­viya fac­tory is one of only two out­side the United States

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - By DAPHNA KRAUSE and ELIANA SCHREIBER (Daphna Krause)

Off of a seem­ingly de­serted in­dus­trial road in the south­ern moshav of Be’er Tu­viya lies a sweet and creamy oa­sis – Is­rael’s very own Ben & Jerry’s ice cream fac­tory.

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, founded in Ver­mont in 1978, came to Is­rael 30 years ago.

The man re­spon­si­ble for the move is Avi Zinger, an ice cream afi­cionado who first had the idea to bring Ben & Jerry’s to the Holy Land. Zinger has been the CEO here since the be­gin­ning.

His com­pany, a li­censee of Ben & Jerry’s, is one of only two fac­to­ries out­side the United States, ex­port­ing to coun­tries all across Europe.

Zinger said the Is­raeli fac­tory tries to keep the process the same as the Ver­mont fac­tory to keep the ice cream con­sis­tent, only making changes as nec­es­sary for the kosher cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Some flavors pro­duced in Is­rael have a higher kosher cer­ti­fi­ca­tion than in the US, he said.

“Ben & Jerry’s is com­ing out with new flavors – maybe five, six, seven flavors a year… We try to fig­ure out which one will be ac­cepted here in the mar­ket... then we go over the sup­plies and in­gre­di­ents and... go to the kosher or­ga­ni­za­tion to see if it’s doable.”

Some flavors are spe­cial only to Is­rael, like Dulce de Leche (caramel fla­vor), while oth­ers don’t do as well as pop­u­lar flavors in the States, like the in­fa­mous clas­sic, Cherry Gar­cia.

In or­der to ensure prod­uct con­ti­nu­ity, some key in­gre­di­ents are im­ported. The milk and eggs are sourced lo­cally from farms all around the south of Is­rael.

He said the fac­tory uses egg yolk in­stead of emul­si­fiers to stay con­sis­tent with Ben & Jerry’s val­ues of keep­ing the prod­uct GMO-free, fair trade and all-nat­u­ral.

For the most part, Zinger said the op­er­at­ing costs in Is­rael are sim­i­lar to those in the US, although some in­gre­di­ents have to be shipped to Is­rael. That, plus the cost of the kosher cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and the fact that milk is more ex­pen­sive in Is­rael, can in­crease the cost of pro­duc­tion.

Ben & Jerry’s stores, like the one out­side the fac­tory where Yo­tam Co­hen works, are not only a place for sweets but a fun place where kids love to come and play.

“On Fri­days when the par­ents aren’t work­ing, it can get up to 100 peo­ple (vis­it­ing the store),” Co­hen said.

This high de­mand for ice cream also re­flects the in­ter­est in the fac­tory it­self. Fac­tory tours for the pub­lic are not cur­rently avail­able, although Zinger hopes to bring them back some­time down the line.

In the mean­time, the Is­raeli fac­tory has its sights set on bring­ing one of Ben & Jerry’s most beloved flavors, Phish Food, to the coun­try, due to pop­u­lar de­mand. The fla­vor con­tains marsh­mal­low fluff, which Is­rael is in the process of repli­cat­ing from the orig­i­nal Ver­mont fac­tory.

“We’re work­ing on it,” Zinger said, adding that Is­rael should ex­pect this fan fa­vorite in the near fu­ture.

PRO­DUC­TION MA­CHIN­ERY fills ice cream car­tons inside the Ben & Jerry’s fac­tory in Be’er Tu­viya this week.

(Is­rael Po­lice)

NBA STAR Dray­mond Green dis­plays an au­to­graphed jer­sey out­side an FIDF build­ing dur­ing a visit to the coun­try last week.

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