Israeli Food and Agriculture Sector Prioritizes Business Continuity Amid Escalating Conflict

by Ella

As Israel grapples with a significant military mobilization in response to recent attacks by Hamas, the country’s food and agriculture sector is working diligently to ensure business continuity despite staffing challenges. Jonathan Berger, the CEO of the Israeli foodtech incubator and investor, The Kitchen FoodTech Hub, revealed that the Israeli military has called up approximately 360,000 reservists, nearly 4% of the nation’s population of 9.8 million, making it one of the largest mobilizations in the country’s history. This mobilization has had far-reaching effects on families and businesses alike.

Compulsory military service in Israel begins at the age of 18, and individuals may be summoned for service at any point until a certain age. Jonathan Berger noted that many people beyond the reservist age range have volunteered for military service as well, often with uncertain durations of deployment.


Due to the mobilization, the highly anticipated FoodTech IL 2023 event had to be canceled. This development reflects the disruption faced by numerous companies in The Kitchen’s portfolio, where many employees have been called up for service. In response to these staffing challenges, some businesses have been creative in finding solutions. For instance, religious individuals, specifically Haredi orthodox Jews exempt from military service, have been assisting by working in factories to fill the gaps left by those called up.


Moreover, many food and agriculture companies in Israel employ Thai citizens, and a significant number have left the country due to recent events. This exodus has led to a shortage of agricultural workers, prompting industry leaders to collaborate and address these issues collectively in an effort to ensure business continuity.


Dr. Nitza Kardish, CEO at agrifoodtech investor The Trendlines Group, emphasized that students from agriculture schools have been stepping in to work or volunteer, illustrating the community’s collective efforts to bridge the workforce gaps.


Dr. Amit Yaari, CEO of Israel startup BioBetter, highlighted the stress faced by his company, with approximately 20% of its employees being drafted. Despite these challenges, business continuity remains a top priority, and many companies within the foodtech ecosystem are working tirelessly in their laboratories, offices, and production areas.

Financing Rounds Continue Amidst Conflict

Several Israeli startups were in the midst of financing rounds when the attacks by Hamas began. Jonathan Berger noted that, for the most part, these discussions have persisted, demonstrating the commitment of investors to the region. In some instances, conversations have been expedited, providing crucial support to Israeli companies during this challenging time.

Dr. Shoshan Haran, CEO of Fair Planet, Kidnapped

Dr. Kardish also drew attention to the tragic situation of hostages taken by Hamas during the recent attacks. Among those abducted was Dr. Shoshan Haran, the CEO and founder of the nonprofit organization Fair Planet, which offers support to disadvantaged communities in African countries through agricultural knowledge and technology transfer.

The Impact on Israeli Communities

The city of Sderot and the cooperative farming communities surrounding Gaza, integral to the Israeli agriculture and food ecosystem, have suffered severe damage. Many companies, incubators, and research and development centers are located in this region and have been adversely affected by the conflict.

Despite the ongoing challenges, Jonathan Berger emphasized the resilience of the Israeli people. “We’ve collected ourselves as we have no choice. This is our country, these are our businesses, and we have to protect all of them.”

In the face of adversity, Israel’s food and agriculture sector remains committed to overcoming obstacles and ensuring business continuity during these challenging times.



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