October 4, 2011

New Products Take Center Stage in Growth of Kosher in 2011

New York... In less than three weeks  (deadline for submission is October 24th), the best new kosher products in 2011 will be crowned with the awards being distributed at next month’s 23rd edition of Kosherfest at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus NJ. Kosher food industry sources say that 2010-2011 was a time of significant new product introductions in almost every category of kosher. Retailers reveal that some of the most successful new products were natural and gluten-free items, as customers of all ages opted for healthier ingredients in everything from iced coffee to matzoh. The emphasis on healthier ingredients was also apparent at take-out counters as it was in the ingredient items for recipes in the rapidly growing list of new kosher cookbooks and magazine supplements. “Expect to see a new focus on accentuating the positives of what is in a product, rather than emphasizing what is not in it,” predicted the Mintel research group in advance of 2011. Indeed, say retailers many of the new products go out of their way to highlight ingredients that are in products rather than the customary “free” (i.e. sugar, sodium, fat, etc.). Calling many new products hybrid, Mintel also noted: “Beyond hybrid forms, we also see a blurring of how consumers use products – with beverages consumed as snacks, snacks as meals, and personal care and home care products that do more than one thing, as well.” Retailers say that they have been quite successful with prepared foods that do just that, combine many different categories. One retailer told KosherToday that he uses wraps in more than 25 items, particularly low calorie wraps such as whole wheat.  Sodium, sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are three well known ingredients that appear to be experiencing covert reductions in product formulations, says Mintel, which also points out that “kosher” appears on more new products than any other claim.

The sudden and dramatic surge of gluten-free has made inroads  into kosher big time, with new Matzoh from Yehuda leading the way for kosher food products in almost every category. An estimated 18 million people in the US are sensitive to gluten -- a hard-to-digest protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Another 3 million-plus Americans are thought to have celiac disease, a potentially life-threatening autoimmune disorder that is treated by eliminating dietary gluten.  Euromonitor International forecasts 2011 gluten-free sales of $1.31 billion in the United States and $2.67 billion worldwide. Sales have more than doubled since 2005 and are expected to hit $1.68 billion in the United States and $3.38 billion globally in 2015. Several retailers reached by KosherToday say that revenues from new items can be as high as 15% of their overall sales.  Exhibitors in Kosherfest will have their chance to compete in the 2011 New Product Awards Competition on October 27th.  This annual competition is judged by important influencers on the kosher market, including kosher supermarket buyers and opinion leaders.