Without. A sophisticated name for an even more sophisticated product/Studio 0304
I admit that I was excited when Danny Rozansky, Strauss Ice Cream's Chief Development Officer, came in for an interview. Nonetheless, this is the man responsible for one of my formative childhood experiences: Popsicle Target, and later Chocobo – two products that haven't been breaded even after the thirty-something years since they hit the market.
Rozansky, who has almost forty years of experience in developing ice cream, has perhaps the best and tastiest job in the world. He worked under the Strauss family and today under Unilever, with the acquisition of Strauss ice cream by the international corporation, which accepted it as an asset. In addition to his work, he also holds the honorary title of chairman of the ice cream standardization committees of the Ministry of Health and the Standards Institute.
However, one of the interesting things that connected us to the conversation together is the fact that over the past eight years, Rozansky, who tasted ice cream every day, has become vegan, and today, after a long development under his command, Strauss Ice Cream is launching LELO, a delicious dairy-free ice cream suitable for vegans not only for them, but also for those who want to reduce the consumption of dairy products, and believe me - it has nothing to do with the flavors of fur that are currently running in your mouth.
Danny Rozansky, Chief Development Officer of Strauss/Moshe Nice Ice Cream
The House of Pistachio
But before that some data. The ice cream market in Israel is estimated at NIS 2.3 billion a year, with the ice cream category in Israel growing almost every day. For example, in 2022 there was an increase of 2% in ice cream consumption (by consumption units) compared to 2021. The main source of growth of the ice cream category in 2022 was due to impulse consumption - consumption outside the home. Other categories that stood out in 2022 were ice creams that grew by 5%, premium ice creams that grew by 12%, tilons that grew by 5% and children's ice cream that grew by 13%.
What does it mean to develop new products in the world of ice cream, and where do you draw your inspiration from?
"I was at the subsidiary, Whitman Ice Cream at the time, I was integrated into Strauss and today we are part of Unilever, so we get ideas, prescriptions and knowledge from surveys they do from Unilever, and we have possibilities for collaborations with them, which gives us more power.
But ideas as a whole come from all sorts of ways, like brainstorming or testing that we do with consumers. We are always looking for the new and what is missing, developing 15 products a year with innovation as the growth engine. A new product always has to release an existing product and decisions have to be made here."
On the other hand, there won't be a situation where a new genome won't come out every year
." If Magnum, for example, succeeds in a crazy way, like Magnum the pistachio, which by the way is an Israeli product developed by us in Israel. If it proves to be a core product, it will remain, and whoever comes out will be a product that sells relatively less."
You have a perspective on the ice cream market in Israel for three decades. How has it changed?
"What I see is that there is a thirst in the market for sophisticated products, for interesting products. We used to grow up on chocolate banana coated and it doesn't work anymore These things, there is a thirst for more sophisticated products - both at a younger age and at an older age.
In the past, the ice cream market, for example, would range from very luxurious ice creams to ice creams labeled by the Israeli Diabetes Association, and over time we realized that we were looking for something in between. Something indulgent but with fewer calories and that's how the Goodies category was born, which met exactly the need."
Rozansky explains that despite Unilever's umbrella, the Strauss Ice Cream development market in Israel is very independent. "I guess it also has to do with our Israeli mentality, and you see it everywhere, including in politics. It's a cheeky people and not a sucker, a people looking to do things their way.
Goodies, for example, was our brilliance, it did start in an unsuccessful category in 500ml pints, and then the token fell to us that whoever searches for this product, is actually looking for a product in which he sees exactly how many calories he eats, and then we turned it into bundles of popsicles. And it was very successful that a year or two later we were just imitated, and it's okay to have room for everyone."
Is there a demand for nostalgic editions? We see the nostalgic trend in other large companies, how is it with you?
"Yes, there is always a demand for nostalgic products. A lot of people write about it, and not everything can be returned. The good old things, like Matera and Chocobo, are still on the market. What they haven't done since then, but they survive without advertising and marketing in an amazing way."
From a broad managerial and business perspective. What is the difference between a net Israeli company and one that enters an international corporation, what does it do to the business, to thinking, to development?
"It does a lot. We get methodologies of how to work systematically, how to work more orderly according to procedures that reduce our error rate. Another direction is knowledge. They have a global development center and we are projectors who execute things.
They have a development center where there are people who can think about ideas even five years ahead. This product may not come out at all, but they collect so knowledge that I can use it. They're very thorough on all sorts of things that I don't have the time to invest in, so I and a whole team of our food technologists take advantage of this knowledge and work on an islandended with cooperation from the level of material development to the level of packaging development."
What does this mean?
"Do I replace raw material in packaging, do I want the packaging to be more sustainable? We have a trend of sustainability and environmental awareness, and I see in global companies a very big thinking about environment, sustainability and accessibility. Suddenly you see an advertisement on Strauss TV for the Strauss Group that I was in most of my years, packaging that opens easily to make it easier for people with disabilities. Awareness is rising and it's a new world that never existed before. And today there is another trend that I identify in Israel and that is the trend of reducers, and that's where the new development came from."
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Zeitgeist: Less milk - from abstainers at all to reducers/ShutterStock
Milk with the wind
Dairy substitutes have become one of the leading consumer trends in recent years, in Israel and around the world. The reasons for this are varied: from sensitivity and health, through conscientious considerations of veganism and vegetarianism, to lifestyle preferences, environmental impacts and sustainability, as well as integration into the prevailing trend in public discourse.
In Israel, about 35% of the population consumes milk substitutes, and the data indicate an increasing percentage of people who are not vegan by definition, who regularly incorporate various types of milk substitutes into their routine - these are the "reducers". The new brand LELO appeals to both this audience and anyone looking for luxurious and rich ice cream.
We are in a country where there is kosher and fur products and there is a stigma attached to it, so how are you different?
"We've known the fur world since before Unilever. It was very simple, basic. Vanilla is the driver of the fur market. With Lalo we came from a completely different place. Even though Lalo is a fur product, and although it is not just a fur product, but also stamped by the ultra-Orthodox community, we aimed to make the most luxurious ice cream possible, as delicious as possible and we knew that we did not want to compromise on taste. What does this mean in practice? Rich and varied toppings, and high-quality, clean vegetable protein, which has little of its quantity so they don't feel like it's non-dairy ice cream at all."
Rozansky explains that this is why they only launched in August, the end of summer, and a very unconventional time to launch a new flavor of ice cream. "We've never launched a product so late, and the reason for that was more and more accuracies we wanted to make. This is our differentiation here in the Israeli market, to identify a need that is completely real, to be the first to respond to the same need as we did with Goodies, for example."
So I won't have to get used to the taste?
"You won't feel any different taste. The goal is to give the milky flavor and we got there."
Is this development related to the fact that you became vegan?
"I became vegan eight years ago out of conscientious reasons, and this series gave me pride and excitement to be part of this, it's one of the developments I'm very excited about."
I'm sure that after four decades of work there have also been failures along the way, tell me about one
"There were such products of course. But the biggest failure I remember right now is a product we called tacos. We invested a lot of money in it. It was based on an international product that Unilever developed, and we did it too, but we didn't import it, we invested in machinery. It's a product that resembles cornetto, only it looks like a pita. But it didn't work either in the world or in Israel. Just didn't work."
Has there ever been the opposite effect? Have you developed something in Israel that Unilever has adopted?
"It happened with Magnum, a duet I developed a few years ago, and today Unilever is coming out with it in Europe. They also draw ideas from us. They know that we are a start-up country and come to see us – not only us working, but the developed Israeli food tech industry in general. We are very creative and they allow me and my department to be super creative like in LELO for example.
There are ideas they only welcome. But of course we are not ashamed to take equal ideas from them as well. Ultimately, Unilever wants to be a brand of cultured milk ice cream in the future. There are already companies abroad that are doing this. In the end, there is no future for the planet if we do not think ahead about sustainability and the environment. Fifty years from now, we will eat completely different food, and there is no doubt that the food tech revolution, which we in Israel are very much at the forefront of, is the next revolution."
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