CHICAGO — Jacob Rusanov wore many hats at the recently concluded annual KeHE Holiday Show at McCormick Place (June 10-11). As Category Manager for the large food distributor, Rusanov is responsible for many ethnic foods, but clearly kosher was a major focus. “I literally dragged many of the trade visitors to the aisle where some of the kosher manufacturers exhibited,” said Rusanov. He is very passionate about the role of kosher in the thousands of stores his company serves.
While kosher represents only a few percentage points of all sales at KeHE, Rusanov sees it as steadily growing category. He says that kosher is keeping up with such national trends as gluten-free and increasingly even promoting foods that are non GMO (Genetically Modified Organism). Although there were less than a dozen kosher booths, they included most of the large manufacturers, including Kedem, Osem, Manischewitz and Streit’s. Two Israeli companies, Dorot and Peleg were also represented.
Rusanov is, of course, no stranger to kosher with a resume that includes Wakefern (ShopRite) and Osem. Based in Romeoville, Illinois, KeHE has some 2000 employees and 12 distribution centers in the US and Canada.