Beloved Israeli snack prepares to take bigger bite out of American market

Generations of Israeli kids grew up eating peanut butter-flavored snack Bamba. Now, manufacturer Osem is negotiating a distribution agreement that could make the snack as wildly popular with American kids

By Navit Zomer, Ynet News via The Calcalist

Bamba, a peanut butter-flavored puffed corn snack, is synonymous with Israeli childhood. Generations of Israeli kids grew up eating Bamba—which is considered highly nutritious and is often credited with lowering peanut allergy rates in the country—since it was introduced in the 1960s.

A 2017 blog post by the U.S. National Institute of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins discussing the rise in peanut allergy in the U.S. suggests exposing babies to peanut-containing foods as early as four to six months of age as a means of inoculation. The post lists Bamba as one of the foods shown to reduce the occurrence of peanut allergy.

Now, Bamba manufacturer Osem Group is negotiating with Swiss multinational Nestlé S.A. for a U.S. distribution agreement that will see Bamba become a staple in the diet of U.S. kids. Osem itself is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nestlé. If the agreement is finalized, Bamba will be added to Nestle’s baby food division, which distributes such popular brands as Gerber and NAN.

Osem is one of Israel’s largest food manufacturers. Founded in 1942, the company built its reputation manufacturing snacks and dry pantry staples, eventually venturing into pickles, ice creams, frozen foods, and prepared middle eastern salads through subsidiaries such as Sabra Salads. Osem already exports a variety of foods to Europe and the U.S. through subsidiaries Osem U.K. Ltd. and Osem USA Inc., focusing primarily on the kosher food market. In addition to specialty kosher food stores, Bamba is sold in the U.S. in stores such as Costco and Trader Joe’s.