Lakewood, NJ…The growing network of large kosher independent supermarkets has changed the shopping experience for thousands of kosher consumers. According to knowledgeable sources in the kosher food industry, that network is set to significantly expand in such major kosher enclaves as Lakewood, Monsey, and the Catskills. Almost all of the new stores will carry the names of established brands, meaning that kosher independents that are already in some locations are expanding to other locales. With plans going forward in several areas, none were yet prepared to make the official announcement, but when the number of new stores is added up in 2022, say the sources, there may be at least 6-8 new stores. Some of the stores are replacing major supermarket brands, the sources told Kosher Today. “Today’s kosher consumer will not accept a half-baked effort by a major supermarket, especially when they can shop at a kosher independent,” a veteran distributor said. All the sources noted that the “experience” has become a key factor, which they defined as an all-embracing store with a great takeout department, good produce, and very importantly great meat and fish departments. The era of the independents began in 2008 with the opening of Pomegranate in Brooklyn and gained prominence with the introduction of such brands as Gourmet Glatt, Evergreen, Season’s, and others.