June 23, 2014

Chalav Yisrael Ice Cream War Heats up as Category Soars

BROOKLYN, NY — The Klein family, pioneers in producing Chalav Yisrael (higher standard of kosher dairy where the milking process is observed by a rabbi) ice cream is suddenly in a heated war for market share with Mehadrin, themselves pioneers in Chalav Yisrael products, but relative newcomers to the ice cream arena. Since Klein’s Ice Cream was founded in 1950 by Ephraim Klein, the company has been an innovator in product lines that have in many cases competed favorably with leading non-Chalav Yisrael brands.

But in recent weeks, a war that was already underway intensified with full page ads in Orthodox Jewish weeklies and even included a free-standing coloring book by Klein’s that told the story of the company’s growth. Industry sources estimate the market size to be upward of $40 million, owing largely to the rapidly growing Orthodox market. They say that Klein’s had also managed to cross over into markets that were not traditionally Chalav Yisrael. 

Mehadrin, long known for its broad range of Chalav Yisrael products, including cheeses, sour cream, yogurts, snacks and leben  was more recently involved in a battle for the new lucrative Greek Yogurt chalav Yisrael market against Norman’s, the market leader. But, say the industry sources, Mehadrin has obviously decided to make its next frontier Chalav Yisrael ice cream. While Mehadrin’s ads are showing mouth-watering ice cream and asking customers to “Choose,” Klein’s is focusing on its heritage and expanding its Klein’s customer-friendly approach, including focusing on its “Klein’s Ice Cream House” and distinctive trucks. 

There is evidence of this fight at almost every kosher stop, particularly on the brand name on the ice cream freezer, where they are positioned in the store, and even how many of these freezers are in the store.