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Hummus on fire: Sabra Dipping Co names new CEO, doubles hummus production capacity

By Elaine Watson+

30-Sep-2014
Last updated on 30-Sep-2014 at 00:30 GMT2014-09-30T00:30:50Z

US sales of hummus have almost doubled in the past five years
US sales of hummus have almost doubled in the past five years

Buoyed by the surging popularity of hummus in the US, Sabra Dipping Co has unveiled plans to expand its hummus manufacturing facility in Chesterfield County, Virginia, doubling its production capacity and creating 70 new jobs.

The company (which is joint-owned by PepsiCo and Israeli food manufacturer Strauss Group) also named Shali Shalit-Shoval as its new chief executive following the retirement of Ronen Zohar.

Shalit-Shoval - previously chief marketing officer for the Sabra brand - will be based out of Sabra Dipping Co's HQ in New York, where she will oversee Sabra's North American operations and the global business of dips and spreads brand Obela  (also joint-owned by PepsiCo and Strauss Group and currently available in Mexico and Australia).

Should the FDA set a standard of identity for hummus?

Sabra Dipping Co first opened its hummus factory in Virginia in mid-2010, and has been expanding it ever since to meet growing demand. Today, it is claimed to be the largest hummus manufacturing facility in the world, employing more than 500 people. 

But as interest in hummus has intensified in the US, so has the debate over what, precisely, it is.

While 'hummus' is generally agreed to be a combination of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and tahini (sesame paste); scores of new ‘hummus’ products have hit the market in recent years that are instead made from white and black beans, soybeans, lentils and other pulses.

And this is beginning to confuse shoppers, claims Sabra Dipping Co, which recently submitted a citizen’s petition to the FDA asking it to establish a standard of identity for hummus in which chickpeas would have to be “the predominant ingredient by weight, except water,” and the finished product would have to contain at least 5% by weight tahini.

US sales of hummus have almost doubled in the past five years  

The 11-page petition also documents the explosive growth of hummus in the US market, noting that sales of the protein-packed dip had almost doubled to more than $600m in the past five years, while 25% of US households now buy hummus compared with 16% in 2009.

Aside from hummus, Sabra also sells refrigerated salsa, guacamole, and other dips and spreads to retailers and foodservice customers nationwide and claims to have a 65% share of the US refrigerated flavored dips category. Its salsas are manufactured in Oceanside, California.

Click HERE  to read the citizen’s petition, to which the FDA has yet to respond.  

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