Elite-Strauss plans to double its activity which currently stands at US$950m
within three to four years, according to outgoing Chairman Michael Strauss. In
an interview with Ha’aretz, Strauss said that "hundreds of millions of dollars,
which would be raised through bank loans and private means, would be needed to
effect this growth."

The report notes that Elite is the only part of the group that is traded on
the stock exchange. Elite International, which is included in Elite’s
financial reports, operates as a separate company, while Strauss is privately
held. Elite’s total sales in 2000 amounted to NIS2.1bn (US$505m). Strauss said
most of the growth pertains to Elite International, "which plans to continue
purchasing foreign coffee companies."

The outgoing chairman commented on the company’s appeal against the decision
by the Industry and Trade Ministry Investment Centre to withdraw the tax benefits
afforded to Elite-Strauss for its new dairy in Galilee. The decision to withdraw
the benefits came after the company could not meet the condition of exporting
15% of the new plant’s production. "When the dairy was planned, the company
planned to export its products to Turkey, Cyprus and Jordan, but the current
regional security situation had made it impossible," Mr Strauss said.

During a ceremony to be held this week, marking the opening of the new dairy,
Michael Strauss will hand over control of the Elite-Strauss Group to his daughter,
Ofra Strauss-Lahat.
By Aaron Priel, just-food.com correspondent