August 6, 2012

Most Frequent Complaint of Kosher Consumers: Confusion on the Shelf

MIAMI, FL — Sheryl does a good deal of her shopping at a Publix store in the Miami Beach area. “There is a great selection of kosher products in the store, from dry goods to chickens, but you just have to know where to find them.” Sheryl admits that as an Orthodox Jew, she has familiarized herself with the kosher selection and knows, for example, that the Kedem Grape Juice is in the Ethnic Foods aisle and that the kosher certified baked goods are indeed in the baked goods section. But Sheryl also occasionally serves as an “information center” for some shoppers who do not quite understand that kosher is in the Ethnic Foods aisle.

Her friend Ruth who shops at the Ventura Winn-Dixie store has much less of a problem as kosher signage is very visible “and there is a mashgiach to ask.” In dozens of interviews, KosherToday has learned that the random placement of kosher items is one of the most frequent complaints of customers.

One Midwest customer said that despite a freezer door that was marked kosher, she found many non-kosher items thrown in there as well.” The upshot of the expansion of kosher is that in the absence of any uniformity in retail, “the customer is left to their own devices,” said a veteran distributor. “I guess you might say that an educated kosher consumer is our best customer.” He added: “If you think it is bad all-year round, it pales with what goes on in many stores during Passover, especially for products that look alike.

He cited shelves that were only partially devoted to Passover, staff making assumptions that some products don’t need special certifications for Passover and so forth. He and others said that there is far less confusion when a store is under kosher supervision and there is a mashgiach on the premises.