SECAUCUS, NJ — For more than 6,000 visitors to Kosherfest 2012, the 24th annual kosher food trade show closely mirrored the dramatic changes in the kosher marketplace. Gil Marks, author of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Foods and many other award-wining kosher cookbooks summarized this year’s show this way: “There was vegan cholent mix and kosher bacon. There were new as well as familiar products from other countries, from Israel to Argentina.”
Industry experts said that while some of the traditional kosher foods had certainly not disappeared, they were overshadowed by the new world of kosher foods that appealed to younger and health-conscious kosher consumers. Said Marks: “There was much less Eastern European fare, such as gefilte fish and herring, and a noticeable increase in Mediterranean and Sephardic foods.” But at the same time Marks made note of such hot trends as quinoa, gluten-free foods, pomegranate-flavored items, couscous, Greek yogurts, and better-tasting non-dairy frozen desserts.
Lifestyle was also very much in evidence as Africa Kosher Safaris offered the kosher traveler “the unique opportunity to enjoy the splendors of the African bush while enjoying top quality kosher cuisine, prepared fresh on site under the strictest kashrus standards.” The program is headed by Rabbi Yoni Isaacson of South Africa. There was Skinny Kosher Creations with its first vegetarian, pareve, shelf stable, all natural, kosher weight loss meal plan in the weight loss industry.
From the moment Kosherfest opened on Tuesday November 13th with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger, the focus was on some of the new products and trends that ranged from Gelato Petrini (winner of the Best Product in Show in Kosherfest’s annual New Product Competition) to such new items as Norman’s Greek Yogurt, Torrie & Howard Organic Candies, Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips by Manischewitz, Pho Vietnamese Broth by Eatem Foods, Mikee’s Sugar Free Thai Peanut Salad Dressing, and of course, Jack Gourmet’s Facon (fake bacon) made of beef plate that is smoked and fried. Some of the larger exhibits such as Kedem, Manischewitz, and Osem featured the mix of the old and new with Kedem, of course, wowing wine lovers with their new additions from around the world.
There was a sense amongst retailers that the kosher set was undergoing change in many ways and that even the Passover shelf would continue to evolve. For some, the tasty Matzolah, to be distributed by Streit’s, will be a welcome addition come Passover this March; for others it is the increasing focus on health for the upcoming Pesach holiday.