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Paul Bulcke, the alpha executive of global foodstuffs giant Nestle, dropped by Israel in secret yesterday for just 24 hours. This was Bulcke's first visit to Israel since he took the reins a year and a half ago at Switzerland-based Nestle, which owns the controlling interest in Israeli foods company Osem.

And what was he doing here? Mainly, visiting the Osem plant in Sderot, which makes Bamba Nougat.

Bamba Nougat is considered one of Israel's great successes in the Nestle group. Nestle produces hundreds of brands of chocolate and snacks. But Bamba Nougat, a nougat-stuffed form of the popular peanut snack, is unique. In fact Osem has more than one patent on the stuff.

Following its development, Nestle allowed Osem to start producing a breakfast cereal that follows the same general idea - it's stuffed. Israel thus gained the distinction of becoming one of the few countries that produces a breakfast cereal for Nestle.

Osem has been manufacturing in Sderot since 1981. The company is the biggest employer in the entire area around Gaza Strip, with 480 workers. The plant makes 170 different products, including Bisli, Mana Hama instant foods (noodles, rice dishes and the like), instant soup powders, soup nuts, ketchup and sauces.

The company refused to comment on whether Nestle has plans to promote Bamba Nougat in the international marketplace.

In the evening Bulcke visited the Carmel market in Tel Aviv and went onto Nahalat Binyamin Street, where he observed the way Tzabar chilled salads are marketed. Tzabar is also a division of Osem.