May 31, 2011

Fish Sales Soar in Advance of Shavuos Holiday

Chicago…The Jewel-Osco ad for the upcoming Shavuos (eve of June 7 – June 9) festival features traditional holiday meat dishes but also such items as cheesecake, blintzes, pizza and such fish items as nova lox and salmon filet. Most Jews celebrating Shavuos eat at least one dairy meal, conforming to a custom associated with the holiday, but several retailers predicted a dramatic increase in the sale of fish for the holiday, partially because of the many new recipes in kosher cookbooks and magazines and partially out of a focus on health. “It’s an easy meal to prepare,” said Tova, a mother of 4 at one of the large kosher food stores in Boro Park. All I have to do is season Salmon or Tilapia, and serve it with couscous and vegetables.” Concern by some about bugs in wild Salmon and other fish is having little impact on the marketplace as major kashrus agencies do not consider the bugs a problem. Retailers say that they have not seen any significant shift away from fish products.


Fish has become so popular that the Orthodox Union recently published a special manual dedicated to fish. It follows the publication of manuals for the kosher oil and baking industries, both of which now are in their second printings. The concept of the manuals was conceived by Dr. Simcha Katz, who was then Chairman of the OU Kashrut Commission and is now President of the Orthodox Union. The 78-page “OU Manual for the Fish Industry” was written by Rabbi Chaim Goldberg, who for many years has traveled the world as Rabbinic Coordinator for OU fish companies. There are sections on tuna, salmon, canned sardines and herring; smoked fish; pickled herring; fish oil (such as Omega 3); purchasing fish in a non-kosher fish store; fish roe (eggs); and canning, pickling and curing. Food sources also predict the customary surge in cheesecake sales “of every type and flavor.” One distributor said: “With the late Shavuos (in early June), we customarily sell lighter foods like fish for the holiday.” Indeed, many of the recipes include chilled fruit soup as part of the Shavuos meal.