Lead the way in sustainable snacking by keeping it simple
In the midst of a diversified and highly competitive food industry where consumer tastes are fickle and difficult to sustain, Sabra Dipping Co. LLC to boast a stable position as a leader in the chickpea market in the United States.
Joey Bergstein, CEO of Sabra, has been in his role since August 2021 and is focused on driving purpose and increasing sustainability. “Sustainability is not just something we do, it is part of who we are. We believe that by making conscious choices at every step, we can create a better world for today and for generations to come.
The company’s goal is to “unite and delight the world around planet-positive food,” Bergstein says. He says it’s very simple, and that’s the company’s secret. “When it comes to how we show up in the market, we want to make people happy with great hummus and do it in a way that has a positive impact on our world.”
Rich History: From humble beginnings to market dominance
Sabra’s journey began in 1986 when New York-based businessman Yehuda Pearl set out to introduce and popularize the beloved Mediterranean sauce among Americans. Sabra’s delicious and creamy hummus became an instant hit and its innovative packaging hit the shelves. As it grew, it caught the attention of multinational food brands, and in 2008, the Strauss Group and PepsiCo entered into a joint venture, each holding 50% ownership, opening doors and accelerating the growth of the brand, which is now practically synonymous with hummus today.
“We founded Yehuda Pearl,” Bergstein says. “He’s a very enterprising Orthodox rabbi, and he’s done some other really cool things. Pearl is actually a great character. He has another very successful business that he started called Veggies Made Great. He also has another business that he’s funding which is recycling waste into plastic.” (Israel-based UBQ Materials) “They built a huge factory in Holland.”
UBQ is a bio-thermoplastic composite made from 100% unsorted household waste, including all organic and non-recyclable materials.
What distinguishes Sabra from others: pillars of sustainability and multicultural tastes
Bergstein’s background in marketing and brand management has been instrumental in Sabra’s continued market dominance. Prior to taking over Sabra, he held key leadership roles at Seventh Generation (now a Unilever-owned company), where he honed his expertise in sustainable business practices and consumer engagement.
“Hummus has been around for centuries and is beloved throughout the region,” Bergstein says. It’s really interesting because it crosses cultural divides and brings people together around a table.
A lot of people actually love hummus. Data indicates that the chickpea market alone was worth $952 million across multiple outlets and retail stores during the last 52 weeks ending in August. This excludes Costco and the Natural Channel, so Sabra estimates its market cap at nearly $1 billion. The larger dips and spreads market has been valued at $90.2 billion (right???) in 2022 and is expected to grow at 5.4 percent annually from 2023 to 2032.
All indications are that better-for-you options like chickpeas are likely to continue to grow. But Sabra’s leadership in the food industry goes beyond its market share and revenue numbers. From the beginning, the company, headquartered in White Plains, New York, has been an advocate of sustainability and environmental awareness. Bergstein says this commitment is evident in every aspect of its operations, from sourcing ingredients responsibly to reducing their potential negative impact on the environment.
The company’s sustainable practices include a simple formula for reducing waste generation and energy management within its extensive operations as well as improving recyclability. “Sabra has always been very conscious of its footprint,” Bergstein says.
“Sustainability is key to our success and so we reward it. We have two sustainability metrics that we have incorporated into our company incentive plan for 2023. Bergstein points to a significant reduction in waste, which he notes is “greater than a 50 percent absolute reduction overall this year so far compared to last year.” 2022 during the same period. We have further reduced our proportion of waste to landfill. We are also converting our chickpea packaging to become widely recyclable.
Nurturing communities and collaborating
At Sabra’s LEED-certified chickpea processing facility — the nation’s largest — in Chesterfield County, Virginia, 2,000 recycling bins have been manufactured from Pearl’s sustainable plastic alternative UBQ, and the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority plans to expand this pilot project.
Sabra’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond its corporate operations. The company actively supports local communities and partners with partners to help ensure local families have access to nutritious food.
Bergstein stresses the importance of simplicity in setting sustainability goals, saying: “You have to keep it simple and not overcomplicate it.”
“It’s not just about the food on the table; It’s about the hands that make it and the hearts that enjoy it. We are committed to making a positive difference and helping create a future where fresh, delicious food is accessible to everyone.
And along these lines of simplicity, Bergsten highlights the company’s collaboration with local organizations like Feed More, which has supported the Central Virginia community with more than 30 million meals — 1 in 9 people in the region are food insecure. “So, we’re donating a lot of produce,” Bergstein says. “We need to feed more people, to get food into the hands of the people who need it most.”
Innovating for a sustainable (and delicious) future.
While hummus remains at the heart of the brand, the company sees potential for expansion into other fresh Mediterranean foods, Bergstein says.
As a market leader, Sabra aims to set an example for the entire food industry, Bergstein says. Sabra wants to inspire others by showing that it is possible to create delicious, planet-positive food that benefits both people and the environment. “Our belief is that people should feel good about the food they enjoy, which is why we are deeply committed to producing food that not only tastes great, but is also good for you and good for the planet.
“Hummus is a very simple recipe made with legumes and sesame seeds, and it’s a good choice for people and the planet,” Bergstein says.
“Nutritionally, chickpeas contain protein and fibre. From a sustainability standpoint, chickpeas are a very renewable crop. Chickpeas are often used as a rotation crop among other crops because they add nitrogen to the soil. So what comes after the chickpeas, the soil is better prepared; “It’s more productive,” Bergstein says. “It is really important for all of us at Sabra to work in a way that we can be proud of.”
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(tags for translation)The Path to Sustainable Snacking