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Now that the recession is over, Israel's families have stopped economizing on prepared, chilled salads, it appears. Third-quarter sales in the category of salads other than hummus increased 17% in fiscal terms compared with the first half of 2009, according to figures from the market research firm StoreNext.

Including hummus, sales of chilled salads increased by 9.5% in the months of August, September and October compared with the first six months of 2009, StoreNext's figures show.

In the first half of 2009 sales had fallen 5% compared with the same period of 2008. The element that spurred the market back to growth may have been Osem, which launched its series of "Salatei Ha-Chef" together with chef Rafi Cohen in August. Cohen is the founder and owner of the Tel Aviv restaurant Rafael.

Osem had invested NIS 3 million in the launch. It roughly coincided with a resurgence of consumer confidence as economic indicators turned positive, showing that Israel was rallying from the global economic crisis.

The Chef salads are part of Osem's Tzabar line of salads. In the third quarter Tzabar increased its market share by about 19%, rising from 28 in the first six months of 2009 to 34% in the third quarter. Meanwhile, by nature, the market share of rival salad makers contracted.

Worst hit was Miki Salads, which suffered a 6.7% drop in salads excluding hummus. Including hummus, its contraction was even worse: 7.4%.

Strauss' Ahla line of chilled salads was less affected, losing less than 3% of its market share. The launch changed the trend among households, explains Nili Zur, chief executive of Tzabar. As long as the recession raged families cut back on salads, confining their purchases to hummus. They didn't go to restaurants, a trend that Osem met with the "bring the restaurant home" concept. Now Israelis feel they can splurge again.