February 16, 2009

Jews are Still Engine that Drives Kosher Market, Manufacturers and Distributors Say

New York…Kosher manufacturers and distributors still see Jews who observe kashrus at any level as the “engine that drives the kosher market.” The comments were in reaction to the widely publicized findings of the Mintel Research Organizations that 13% of Americans consume kosher products with the majority not being Jewish. One manufacturer wrote: “While we benefit from the perception of the size of the kosher market, in the final analysis, our loyal customer base is still the kashrus observer who lives in a major Jewish community.” Mintel itself noted that “the market includes sales of “ethnic kosher” products such as matzoh, as well as sales of processed foods that have kosher certification, but are not specifically “kosher by design.” It added that “The latter mainstream kosher products make up the bulk of sales—and part of the increase or decrease in sales of kosher products is tied to the fortunes of such well-established brands as Oreo, Lay’s potato chips, and Coca-Cola.” The kosher sources admit that they are benefiting from a “crossover” market of non-traditional kosher consumers but claim it is far less than the perception.

The Mintel study pointed to “the extent to which mainstream products seek and maintain their kosher certification.” Only a small percentage of food manufacturers drop their kosher certification, which is a significant sign that the value of the kosher symbol continues to increase. Retailers agree with the Mintel conclusion that “food safety is the top reason for buying kosher products” amongst non-traditional kosher consumers.