December 1, 2015

Kosher Category Manager Can Significantly Increase Kosher Sales, Experts Say

Chicago - The recent appointment by Albertson’s of Yakov Yarmove as its new kosher category manager has prompted many in the kosher food industry to debate the value of such a person in other chains. Most industry sources agree that chains that are invested in kosher can do better if they have a designated kosher person and not just “an add-on” to another job. Yet, many still rely on “in house experts” or on distributors to educate them on kosher certifications, the Jewish calendar, the local Jewish communities and the specific kosher requirements of constituents in each community, all functions of a good kosher category manager. Some chains piggyback kosher onto other ethnic categories which kosher purveyors say is often fraught with many mishaps. “Kosher is unlike any other ethnic foods program and requires extensive knowledge of tradition, custom and Jewish law,” said one kosher purveyor. Chains like Winn-Dixie and Shoprite have relied on kosher category managers. So have distributors like Kehe which recently named Dan Davis as its kosher czar, replacing Jacob Rusinov. Despite officially being responsible for “Ethnic Marketing and Specialty Foods,” Albertson’s in its announcement made clear that “Yakov Yarmove will now be taking the corporate lead on all things Kosher for our company.” Finding the right person for such a position can be a daunting challenge. Yarmove is unique because of his vast experience in kosher, most recently with Jewel-Osco. He previously served in that position at SuperValu and prior to that at Price Chopper. He is a recognized leader in the kosher food industry.

As much as vendors like the idea of the kosher category manager, they are also wary of powerful managers “who put the squeeze on pricing and promotion programs,” as one major kosher purveyor put it. Knowledge of kashrus and the community is a key element in raising the bar of a kosher program, say kosher officials who are in favor of expanding kosher category managers in other supermarket chains as well as discount stores. Kosher category managers also play a key role in expanding kosher programs in a store’s network. “They can take advantage of an opportunity that on the surface appears to be minor simply by linking up with the local Jewish community,” said a kosher purveyor. In other words a kosher manager can help drive traffic through local rabbis and community groups.