November 21, 2011

In its 23rd Year, Kosherfest Featured ÒA World of Change,Ó Industry Officials Say

Secaucus, NJ… Veteran visitors to the annual Kosherfest were unanimous in their assessment that this year’s international kosher food trade show (November 8-9 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center) represented a major shift in emphasis by the industry. They noted that both the long-time established companies and the newcomers showcased “vastly improved” products in quality, packaging and even in the ingredients. Menachem Lubinsky, Kosherfest founder and co-producer, in his opening address said “that the show was more about the new trendier items than the traditional line extension of existing products.” Noted cookbook author (Encyclopedia of Jewish Foods is his latest), Gil Marks, agreed that there was “a major shift” towards the more contemporary upscale items.” One foodie blogger said that she could not believe how many booths featured “either gluten-free, herbs, quinoa, and the claim of natural, which is not what I thought of kosher when I was growing up.” At the Elokim Herbs booth, one almost felt that a new religion was born and indeed the term “herbologist” was repeatedly used. Herbs were also the motif for Ayala’s Herbal Water, founded by Dr. Ayala Laufer-Cahana, which won the Best New Beverage at Kosherfest. Israel’s Dorot featured many new products that use herbs. It too won an award at Kosherfest. The use of herbs received the blessing of many of the noted kosher chefs who were at Kosherfest.

Although there were more than 350 booths with many new and interesting items, there were some that were repeatedly mentioned by trade visitors. One Kosherfest New Product winner and sure to be popular with housewives that bake Challah was The Royal Challah Pan (Kosher Cook), which is a mold that already has the braided shape and simply needs to be filled with the dough and other ingredients. And then there was Queens NY based Challywood, which supplied challah for the opening of the Jewish Heritage Museum in Philadelphia, where Jerry Seinfeld and Bette Midler tasted and loved the Challah. Israel’s Matzoh companies continue to roll out new and innovative products. Kedem showcased Yehuda’s new gluten-free Matzoh squares (not Matzoh in the classical sense that can be used for the Hamotzeh blessing) but looking very Matzoh-like nonetheless. Aviv’s new line of Aviva products including sugar-free as well as gluten-free cookies. For dessert there were many choices, including many new items from Klein’s Ice Cream, the Mango flavor from Kosherfest New Product Award Winner Gianni, a full line of desserts from Taste It, the artistic and magnificently tasting desserts by Elegant and then it could all be washed done with the famed French Drappier Champagne in the Kedem booth.  One food executive remarked that this year’s Kosherfest was “a world of change” for the industry and indeed it was.