Kosher: The brand grows exponentially

image courtesy of E.Garely | eTurboNews | eTN
image courtesy of E.Garely

Trending now: Kosher food, wine and spirits – An exclusive two-part series on what it means to “go kosher.”

Around the world there are increasingly large numbers of people who are “going kosher,” and by 2025, the market for kosher food is likely to exceed $25.6 billion. The rush for kosher food and beverages is good for you and good for your soul as the products wearing the kosher symbol abide by rules and regulations as found in the Jewish Dietary Law.

Before being certified kosher, all the ingredients in the food and beverages as well as the machinery used to produce the products are carefully screened. Whether you are kosher, non-kosher, vegan, vegetarian and/or are challenged by allergies, the kosher section of supermarkets00000 and wine shops are likely to be the safest place to find ingredients for brunch, lunch and dinner. The transparency in food and beverage preparation and ingredients and the ease in identifying the kosher information on the label brings back the joy of cooking.

The largest producer and importer of premier kosher wines and spirits recently introduced thousands of hungry and thirsty gourmets, gourmands, soms, oenophiles, beverage retailers, industry professionals, and journalists to a plethora of delicious kosher food, wines, and spirits from all parts of the planet. The Annual Kosher Food & Wine Experience (KWFE) event is a kosher foodie’s dream come true. This year the event marked the 17th annual experience, demonstrating that the interest in kosher food and beverages is increasing each year. Royal Wine executive, Gabriel Geller, finds that “The show’s success underscores the fact that the kosher food and beverage industry is exploding at a warp speed…”

The celebration of everything kosher is held at Pier 60 Chelsea Piers, the largest waterfront venue in Manhattan that offers 20,000 square feet of luxurious column-free space. KWFE fills the space with hungry/thirsty people who know a great event when they see it; consuming more wines, spirits and food in a few hours then they probably devour in a week. For 6-hours, guests who paid between $161-$241 per person, experienced nonstop samples of everything kosher and palate experiences ranged from Meh to Fabulous.

Food, Food, and More Food

Kosher cuisine has never been more diversified and delicious with options inspired by the French, Japanese, American steakhouses, traditional Jewish cooking, nouveau American, charcuterie, fusion, Caribbean, authentic barbecue, and Mexican plus desserts and specialty coffees that were stunning in both appearance and taste, heavenly rich in nuts, cinnamon, and chocolate.

Funny, You Do Not Look Kosher

Most of the kosher food in the world is consumed in the USA although only 2 percent of Americans are Jewish (approximately 7.5 million people); however, 41 percent of all packaged food in the US is certified kosher (Quartz Business News).

While food sales are growing 1-2 percent annually, kosher food sales have increased more than 10 percent for more than two decades. Perhaps the growth can be attributed to the “crossover kosher consumer,” a group that includes vegetarians, the vegetarian inclined as well as consumers who are lactose intolerant (20 percent of the population) or suffer from food allergies. Other religions requiring strict dietary rules include Hindus, Muslims, and Seventh-day Adventists.

In the USA there are an estimated 75,000 kosher consumer goods (up from 60,000 in 2000) with sales in excess of US$165 billion annually.

Kosher food sales in Canada grew almost 20 percent in one year, from $480 million in 2000 to $575 million in 2001. These compelling numbers drove mainstream giants like PepsiCo, KraftCanda and Krispy Kreme to obtain kosher certification for some items. Since 2003, Campbell Soup has had kosher products and other companies are adding kosher to their product/marketing mix as kosher may represent one of the few opportunities left for market share expansion.

What Kosher Means

Derived from the Hebrew word meaning FIT or PROPER, it refers to foods that meet the strict requirements discussed in the Old Testament; it does not mean being “blessed by a rabbi.” Kosher food has undergone an exacting process of inspection and supervision to ensure its journey from farm or factory to plate and adheres to the law of Kashruth (kosher).

Getting to Kosher

Basic kosher rules:

1.        Prohibits pork or shell fish

2.        Requires the separation of meat and dairy products, and

3.        Requires animals slaughtered according to a set of humane rituals (although the rules are frequently overlooked).

For a product to be kosher all of its ingredients must first be certified kosher. This is not difficult because the majority of food ingredients in North America (as many as 70 percent) already meet kosher standards.

The next step is the initial inspection and assessment of the processing plant by a member of the certifying agency’s rabbinical staff. The basic annual fee for kosher supervision of packaged products ranges from $2000 to $5000, depending on the complexity of supervision required.

If the equipment has been used to manufacture non-kosher products, even if was 10 years ago – Kosherization will be required. The process of sterilizing equipment by bringing it to extremely high temperatures may involve the use of a blowtorch, hot coals or hot steam before the equipment can be used to produce kosher products.

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Brand

Kosher is a brand! As a brand it includes the discrete trademarks of varied certification organizations and collectively the symbols communicate to consumers which products meet kosher standards. The marketplace power of brands gives products considerable economic value. While the power of the brand over other trademark holders contributes to the value of the final product it is hidden from consumers; however, it is critical for a brand’s durability.

Profitability

One of the principal organizations creating the kosher brand is The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (UOJCA). Its efforts are maintained by Orthodox supporters who seek to expand kosher options available to observant Jews. These activities, in concert with other certification agencies, have made kosher designations financially valuable to food, wine and spirits producers.

The extra profits for the firms that decide to make their products comply with kosher requirements generate sufficient revenue to create a new and robust income stream for Orthodox certification organizations. The substantial monetary benefits accrued are quantifiable measures of their successful branding efforts and support Orthodox Jewish endeavors including paying the salaries of hundreds of clergies, and laity engaged in kosher supervision activities, with significant surpluses funding Orthodox educational and promotional initiatives.

The Future of Kosher Food, Wine, and Spirits

Food and beverages hold important positions in the customs and culture of all consumers. For Jewish families, Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), the celebration features apples and honey to beckon a sweet new year. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) requires fasting in order to focus on spirituality. Passover (Israelites’ exodus from Egypt) demands Matzah (unleavened bread) representing the food the Jews consumed while fleeing their oppressors. Each holiday and ever occasion is a showcase for massive amounts of food that triggers memories of the past and prayers for the future.  The demand for kosher food, wine and spirits continues to increase as more people realize that “clean” food is not only good for good health but is also good for the soul.

This is part one of a 2-part series. Coming up:  “Shopping for Kosher Food, Wine and Spirits

© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.


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About the author

Dr. Elinor Garely - special to eTN and editor in chief, wines.travel

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