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May 15, 2014 4:51 pm

Chinese Food Giant Bright Dairy Says Israel’s Tnuva Makes Better Cheese Than European Rivals

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Delivery truck for Israeli dairy company Tnuva. Photo: Tnuva.

Delivery truck for Israeli dairy company Tnuva. Photo: Tnuva.

Bright Dairy & Food Co. Deputy General Manager Ke Li told Israeli journalists visiting its plant in Shanghai that Israel’s Tnuva Food Industries, which it’s in talks to buy from venture capitalist  Apax Partners for NIS 9 billion ($2.6 billion), makes better cheese than its European rivals.

“Tnuva is a great food company,” Ke Li said, according to Israeli business daily Globes on Thursday. “The flavor of cheese in Israel is different from Europe, and it is better, in my opinion.”

Li said, “Many of its products are suitable for the Chinese market, and if the deal is finalized, we will be able to import Tnuva cheeses to China.”

“We already have a partnership with Israel,” she added. “Our representatives travel to Israel three to four times each year, and we already have partnerships with dairy-technology companies, like SCR,” an Israeli technology company that develops advanced milking management systems.

Bright Food, a holding company founded in 1911, is owned by the Chinese government. It reported sales of $25 billion last year, and net profit of $500 million. If the company buys Tnuva for the reported NIS 9 billion, it would represent a NIS 5 billion gain for Apax.

Globes said: “Bright Food is aware of the concern in Israel regarding the transfer of the Israeli food giant to Chinese control, and is attempting to lift the cloud and ease the doubts, by, among other things, presenting the company to Israelis, including reporters and Bank Leumi executives, who are in talks to assume the loan extended to Apax to acquire Tnuva.”

Subsidiary Bright Dairy & Food Co. is the second-largest dairy company in China, has 23 factories and its shares are traded on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The unit primarily produces milk and yogurt, with market shares of 45 percent and 26 percent, respectively, in each category. According to Li, the milk market has grown an average of 20% annually over the past 15 years and dairy companies are having trouble keeping pace with the rising demand.

Israeli technology has made the country’s “Super Cows” world famous, as they produce much more milk than other countries’ cows, up to 10.5 tons a year, 10% more than in the U.S. and almost 50% more than in Germany, Bloomberg News reported in March.

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