FROM KOSHER TODAY (JUNE 27)
Manischewitz Skillfully Reinvents Itself; Inaugurates New Modern Headquarters and Plant
Newark, NJ…by T. Cohn and Staff Reporters…As the oldest kosher brand in the US, Manischewitz had seemingly had many lives, but thanks to the ingenuity of people like Paul Bensebat and Alan Bankier, the 123-year old company is not only alive and well but on the verge of major new expansion that included an official Grand Opening of its newly renovated headquarters here earlier this month. The business-savvy pair partnered with Harbinger Capital Partners, which acquired R.A.B. Foods in 2007. Bensebat and company had already performed their magic with Lakewood-based Cohen’s hors d’œuvres, completely restructuring the company under Cuisine Innovations. The company’s name reverted to Manischewitz; it took ownership of Jewish American Heritage Month, which included a White House ceremony; redesigned packaging; launched dozens of new SKU’s far afield from its original profile as the world’s largest Matzoh manufacturer; and aimed for the youth market with new modern packaging and even producing new varieties of its famed Tam Tam product. Bensebat, who with co-CEO Alain Bankier, and investors, took over operations of Manischewitz in 2008, said: “Manischewitz was a great name, a great company, 123 years old, but tired. It had lost its energy,” he said.
The June 14th event at the newly remodeled plant reflected the genius of the team that bought into Manischewitz and gave its investors, Harbinger, new hope for rapid expansion. The notables who cut the ribbon included Rabbi Yona Metzger, chief rabbi of Israel and Mr. Cory Booker, Newark’s Mayor who peppered his remarks with Yiddish phrases. As an added feature, participants witnessed the baking of the largest matzo ever, according to Manischewitz officials. The “monster matzo” weighed in at over twenty-five pounds and covered a surface area of approximately eighty-two square feet. The previous owners, R.A.B. had acquired many well-known Jewish ethnic brands such as Season’s and Rokeach as well as such brands as Guiltless Gourmet. In fact, amongst the guests at the ribbon-0cutting ceremony was Victor Ostreicher, the former owner of Rokeach that had sold the brand to R.A.B. The “new” site was the former main plant of Rokeach.