July 27, 2009

Kosher Sales Slump But Only Slightly as New Product Surge Continues

New York…Sales of kosher foods may not grow as much in 2009 as in the last six years, which averaged 13%, according to some distributors and retailers. The kosher food sources expected an increase of 8% - 10%, which would still be above the expected 4% increase for the food industry in general and as much as a 5% decline in the sale of natural and organic products. Yet, the sources say that the upcoming High Holy Days may be the hidden card in the final numbers. Retailers say that they had noticed somewhat of a change in the shopping habits of middle-class shoppers, many directly affected by the recession. These shoppers were less likely to stock their pantries for a rainy day than only a year ago, explained one retailer. They are also buying more private label items and shunning more expensive gourmet items. Some stores say that they are carrying less brand choices of any given item. “I used to carry 5 brands of kosher mustard; I have reduced that to three,” said a Queens grocer. Despite these developments, say industry sources, consumers are still taking to new products. In 2008, more than 5000 new products had some form of kosher claim, according to the Mintel Research Organization.

The success of new products on kosher shelves is consistent with new data that shows that in general consumers enjoy tasting new products. According to a new study from Ipsos Marketing, Consumer Goods, 89% of consumers said they would be interested in trying new food products at the grocery store. New products accounted for 5% - 10% sales growth in some kosher stores.