May 18, 2009

More Emphasis on Shavuos in NationÕs Supermarkets

New York...Sam Ellenberg is not religious but this year will be buying a cheesecake for Shavuos (eve of May 28 – May 30) in a Los Angeles supermarket. He plans to attend Yizkor services in his Conservative synagogue but the cheesecake is what his mother used to bake in their Washington Heights home. Although it is not as widely observed as either Passover or Rosh Hashanah, a growing number of Jews are observing the holiday and buying the traditional dairy foods. The Jewel-Osco web site is promoting Shavuos recipes as are so many other stores and organizations. In fact, Yaakov Yarmove of SuperValu is promoting his Shavuos dairy foods on-line and in his ads. Many chains and independents run ads for Shavuos with a potpourri of fish, cheese, and other items like pirogen and blintzes. In recent years, say distributors, there has been a great deal of emphasis on upscale cheeses. At the Pomegranate upscale supermarket in Brooklyn, cheeses will be one of a number of dairy categories to be highlighted in ads and other promotions. “Shavuos is a bit tricky,” said one retailer. “Most people eat only one dairy meal, which means that we still have to promote the usual Shabbos and Yom Tov fare.”

Kosher industry experts say that in the past year many new frozen items were added, from blintzes to pizza, but a big seller is the growing selection of gourmet cheese. Los Angeles based Anderson International Foods is one of the companies promoting some of the new kosher cheeses. In a recent interview French born Brigitte Mizrahi said: “Historically, kosher consumers are not big cheese eaters. We are trying to do the same thing the kosher wine industry did. We are trying to educate consumers that not everything has to taste like muenster cheese.” Retailers throughout the country report a sharp increase in the demand for kosher cheese prompting such retailers as Trader Joe’s to stock the fare. They expect to sell an unprecedented amount of kosher cheese for Shavuos.