Big Dairies Running Scared as Tara Ups Market Share

Black and white rebranding dealt body blow to dairy giants Strauss and Tnuva.

Tara may be Israel's number three dairy, but it has the much bigger companies Tnuva and Strauss running scared. The duo have lost a significant share of the milk market to upstart Tara, and in a NIS 1.4 billion market, every fraction of a percent is worth millions.

In January-February this year Tnuva saw its share of the milk market fall to 58.2% from 59.4% from a year earlier. Strauss' share fell to 21.9% from 22.8%.

Tara, which is owned by the Central Bottling Company - known to many as Coca-Cola Israel, was the main beneficiary, with its share of the milk market up from 7.6% to 9.3%.

This still leaves Tara well behind its bigger competitors, but it's not relenting and has been running sales and campaigns for the past two years. Two years ago it launched the M?ller yogurt brand, and a year ago it rebranded all its products, which included new packaging: a spotted cow pattern that has become familiar to most Israelis. It also came out with its new cheese yogurts in January and built up its Zuriel Dairy line based on goat milk.

Strauss and Tnuva responded with their own cheese yogurts; Tnuva says it had planned to do this long before.

So Tara has launched its aggressive campaigns, which has also helped fuel the wars between supermarket chains.

In practice, prices of dairy products have fallen over the past year. For example, the average price of soft white cheeses in February was NIS 23.50 per kilogram, down from NIS 24.10 in January and NIS 24.50 in 2009.

Tara has committed to reaching double-digit market-share figures, said a senior industry official. The company is also building a new dairy near Netivot in the south to at least double its production capacity.