December 20, 2010

Changing Retail Scene Biggest Kosher Story of 2010

New York…The year began with the news that at least two Albertson’s stores that served kosher consumers in Florida would be closing. It is ending with the bankruptcy of A & P, which in recent months closed several Pathmark and Waldbaum’s stores, including a flagship Pathmark kosher store in Monsey. But there were also significant developments with independent kosher retailers, including the relocation of the Seven Mile Market in Baltimore to a 55,000 square foot facility, the planned entry of a major Israeli retailer and the increased kosher offerings by club and discount stores all over the country. The upshot of all of these developments is a three-tiered kosher retail mix that has changed the shopping habits of many kosher consumers and has resulted in stiff competition between the three types of retail grocers.

While the changing kosher retail scene may have been the biggest story for kosher in 2010, there were other notable stories. Kosher slaughter (schechita) continued to come under pressure in Europe and New Zealand. There were more well-known brands that became kosher, including Gatorade and Glenmorangie. Kosherfest 2010 saw a record 7,000 trade representatives attend with an increased number of gluten-free and spelt items. The ongoing recession put the squeeze on the lucrative Passover hotel business and on many upscale gourmet items. It was a banner year for kosher cookbooks with such notable authors as Joan Nathan, Gil Marks, Susan Fishbein and Jamie Geller and a significant book on the development of kosher by Sue Fishkoff (“The Kosher Nation”). There was a dramatic up tick in the role of social media in kosher sales. All in all, kosher sales increased by approximately 12%, at a time when the food industry in general will grow only by several percentage points as it did in 2009. Kosher grew by about the same percentage number in 2009 with the closest competitor being organic foods that grew by 5%.