Michael Strauss, Leading Israeli Businessman, Dies at 86

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Prominent Israeli businessman Michael Strauss.
Prominent Israeli businessman Michael Strauss. Credit: Itzik Ben Malki

Prominent businessman Michael Strauss, one of the owners and former chairmen of the second-largest food products manufacturer in Israel, died on Saturday. He was 86.

Strauss is survived by his three children, twelve grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and sister Raya Strauss-Ben Dror. He was born in Germany in 1934 and in 1936 immigrated to Israel with his family. His mother, a new immigrant at the time, started a business for dairy products, which later became the Strauss conglomerate, which includes Strauss Ice Cream, Strauss Dairies and Strauss Foods. 

The value of the Strauss family’s holdings in the Strauss Group – which reported an increase in operational profits in 2018 – was about $1.7 billion in 2019.

After his father died in 1975, Michael was appointed chairman of Strauss Dairies and in 1991 he became the president and chairman of the Strauss Group. He was behind the deal reached with the Unilever conglomerate, which bought shares in Strauss Ice Cream, as well as the partnership with the Danone Group, which markets its products in over 100 countries. 

In 1997, Strauss entered into partnership with publicly-traded Elite Industries and bought control of the company.  In 1999, Strauss launched a partnership with the international food giant PepsiCo Frito-Lay.

In 2001, Michael passed on the torch to his daughter, Ofra Strauss, appointing her chairwoman of the Strauss Group. He assumed the position of Strauss Holdings chairman and was a member of the group's board of directors. In 2011, his son, Adi Strauss, replaced him on the board of directors.

As a visionary, Michael made Strauss an international conglomerate that operates in some 20 countries. Straus Group currently has some 6,500 employees in Israel and about 150,000 nationwide.

Michael dedicated the past few decades to public activity for social improvement.