December 4, 2023


Food & Travel Enthusiast

Hummus chief Sabra regaining swagger soon after ‘difficult’ shift to halt output

When Joey Bergstein took above as CEO of Sabra in July 2021, the mandate from his bosses was distinct. Inspite of possessing the enviable placement as the U.S. chief in the $2.7 billion hummus industry, the 36-year-aged manufacturer required to speed up its advancement and put a rocky modern earlier guiding it.

Sabra, co-owned as a joint venture amongst Strauss Team and PepsiCo, has struggled with salmonella and listeria contamination that led to recalls heading again to 2015. In December 2021, the model obtained a warning letter from the Fda highlighting numerous violations at its Virginia plant that would make hummus.

To address the federal agency’s fears, Sabra shut down the facility for deep cleaning, products updates and worker teaching setting up very last December. The brand shuttered the plant once more for the thirty day period of April to resolve a defective pipe.

“I built a definitely difficult choice, and it was a decision that I felt like it was the correct point to do,” Bergstein explained of the Virginia closures in an job interview. “It was an amazingly important detail for us to do for the longer time period and for the medium time period of the enterprise.”

Joey Bergstein, Sabra

Joey Bergstein, CEO of Sabra Dipping

Courtesy of Sabra


The first plant closure led to a “substantial” drop in revenue in the initially quarter since most of Sabra’s hummus solutions were being not manufactured for a number of months, Bergstein reported. Sales dropped virtually a third, in accordance to Strauss Team. The Israel-dependent corporation mentioned the absence of Sabra on retail store cabinets resulted in a sharp decline in the product’s current market share in the U.S. — 46% as opposed to 62% a yr before.

Bergstein stated the model has been “consistently climbing back again,” and it has regained its No. 1 placement in the hummus category, according to IRI info cited by Sabra. When it was missing from cabinets, he mentioned much more than 50 percent of customers made the decision not to get hummus alternatively of switching to an additional brand. Those people who did switch are coming back again to Sabra, the IRI details showed, and the brand is having back again current market share.

“When you cease manufacturing, you open the doorway for a competitor,” Bergstein mentioned. “We’ve been equipped to increase again in a reasonably small period of time pursuing that disruption, which I believe speaks to the wellness of the manufacturer.”

A variety of dips at Sabra's office in Richmond, Virginia

Optional Caption

Megan Poinski/Food Dive


Sabra also set the challenges with the Food and drug administration guiding it. The federal agency, which done a extensive inspection of the Virginia plant in Might, determined that it was content with the progress that the business had made resolving its problems, according to Sabra.

Alongside with the plant closure, Sabra strengthened its govt ranks with the using the services of of a new head of exploration and development and sustainability, an specific to oversee meals security and quality, and a new supply chain chief. All three workforce have backgrounds in foods. 

Hank Cardello, a foods sector expert at Georgetown University’s McDonough Faculty of Organization, reported Sabra’s situation as a healthier plant-centered selection, marketplace-chief standing and prospective to carry the products into new flavors and formats will make it an eye-catching brand name in the food room. He extra PepsiCo’s 50% possession and standing as a shrewd operator in the food items and beverage house provided an impetus in helping right Sabra’s recent troubles.

“It would be kind of foolish not to be a significant player in the plant-primarily based arena, and hummus is ideal there,” Cardello mentioned. “This one particular has so a great deal prolonged-expression prospective. It is a main brand name. If I ended up in that enterprise, I would do what ever I could to make that factor work.”

Shifting past hummus

Portion of Sabra’s long term growth designs hinges on taking the manufacturer outside of its roots as an offering at a get together or holiday getaway collecting and turning it into a thing much more individuals take in in their day-to-day routine as a snack or for the duration of foods. Sabra is acknowledged by 80% of individuals, but about 85% of them only purchase the merchandise a couple periods a calendar year, in accordance to the firm. 

To turn occasional people into more recurrent consumers, Sabra has introduced various offerings this sort of as Snackers and Singles for on-the-go use Breakfast Avocado Toast and Every thing Bagel Seasoned Hummus.