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In a well-attended festive occassion, food retailing chain Tiv Ta'am launched its new independent non-kosher chicken range on the weekend.

The product will further reduce the company's dependence on external suppliers, while improving its value added income potential. The chickens will also be up to 15 percent cheaper than other (kosher) brands for part of the year, said CEO Koby Treibitsch.

According to the CEO, Tiv Ta'am has invested some NIS 15 million in the new enterprise, mostly on equipment at the slaughterhouses. However, the company plans to save some NIS 100,000 each month as it needs not employ kashrut (religious meat) inspectors and their staffs. Compared to a kosher slaughterhouse, Tiv Ta'am expects to employ 30 percent fewer staffers, Treibitsch said.

Tiv Ta'am has broken ground in many ways in the local food retailing scene. It was the first to establish a branded frozen chicken range. Until then, the product was considered so basic that no other food company had considered pursuing brand recognition. But now they aren't so complacent, seeing Tiv Ta'am increasing its hold on the vertical supply chain (from raw material to finished product on the shelves).

Treibitsch established Tiv Ta'am in 1990, based on his father's original stall in the Carmel Market of Tel Aviv. The company now operates in three major fields; its industrial division, accounting for 1,000 meat products; its retail side, covering 12 supermarkets with plans to open eight more by 2005; and its international division.

The chain's strong performance is often put down to its opening on Saturdays (the kosher supermarket chains are closed on the Jewish Sabbath), but Treibitsch said this is due more to its ideology than business sense. "Thursdays, Fridays, and sometimes Wednesdays can be better [sale days] than Saturdays," he said.