Tel Aviv…Israel’s food industry is largely kosher despite a growing segment of non-kosher retail stores. Despite its growing food manufacturing capacity, Israel still imports large quantities of food, according to the USDA division in the American Embassy. It is one of the reasons why so many manufacturers around the world, particularly in Southeast Asia seek kosher certification. In 2018, imports of agricultural products reached $6.92 billion with 7% coming from the US. Israel has 1,800 food processing facilities that largely produce kosher food. Multi-national food manufacturers like Nestlé, Unilever, Danone, and Pepsi Co. partner with well-known Israeli food companies such as Osem and Strauss. Four groups dominate the local food processing industry: Tnuva, Osem-Nestlé, Unilever, and Strauss. Sales in supermarket chains account for over 60% of total retail food market sales with more than 90% carrying exclusively kosher certified items. The EU is the biggest market for Israeli agricultural and food exports.
In recent years there has been an increase in demand for non-kosher foods, especially from immigrants from the former Soviet Union. But this demand is stymied because of Israeli laws that require imported meats to be kosher. Many Israeli Arabs and other Muslim also buy kosher products. Nearly 7 of the 9 plus million people in Israel are Jewish. In previous surveys, approximately 70% of Israelis said that they eat kosher.