There is no stronger proof of the growing American popularity of hummus — the classic MidEast chickpea spread — than the Super Bowl XLVIII spot that aired in January starring actor Jeffrey Tambor in a paean to the Sabra Dipping Company, maker of the country’s bestselling hummus and now it its second year as the Official Dips Sponsor of the National Football League.
Six months since that advertising touchdown, ISRAEL21c asked Sabra Marketing Director Greg Greene how the NFL affiliation has impacted the company, whose name is taken from the prickly-but-sweet cactus fruit that colloquially describes native Israelis.
“Enjoying football with great friends and food at casual gatherings is such a great American pastime,” he says. “Becoming the official Dips Sponsor of the NFL has been wonderful for Sabra. Hummus is still relatively new to most, and linking the better-for-you, yet really delicious dip with a great American pastime has really been great for introducing more people to hummus.”
A fabulously expensive Super Bowl ad effectively seals the reputation of a brand as a bona fide US success story. Given Sabra’s Israeli origins – it was formed as a US-Canadian joint venture between Israel’s Strauss Group and PepsiCo – this is an astonishing accomplishment.
Over the past decade, hummus has been leading the country’s fast-growing dip category. Whereas in Israel the healthful and ubiquitous spread generally is scooped with hunks of fresh pita, Americans are trying it with everything from baby carrots to Buffalo wings, says Greene.
He notes that the Sabra brand makes up more than 60 percent of the US hummus market. “It is exciting, but important to remember that still only 25% of the country is eating hummus. There is still a ton of potential,” he tells ISRAEL21c.
In 2013, Sabra drove 76% of the hummus category growth. Sabra consumption was up 25.7% while the hummus category went up 20.5%. The refrigerated product is available in more than a dozen flavors, including single-serve snack packs and hummus packaged with Rold Gold pretzels.
“In addition to new hummus flavors and innovations in packaging, we are having great success with some new dips and spreads, from freshly chopped salsa to guacamole and even Greek yogurt-based dips,” says Greene.
Sabra Dipping Company operates a LEED-certified (“green”) factory in Virginia, as well as a salsa plant in California. In April 2013, it opened a first-of-its-kind research-and-development facility in Virginia to “improve Sabra’s products in all aspects of food manufacturing and distribution, from agriculture, nutrition and food science to engineering, packaging and product delivery.”