April 28, 2014

Passover 2014 Tops 2013 by 10%-20%, Retailers Report

NEW YORK — Credit the calendar or demographics in some cases for what appears to have been an extraordinarily successful Passover season for retailers and foodservice. That was the consensus of most kosher food industry experts. Even markets that showed little growth in the past few years held their own, say distributors and several major retailers reached by Kosher Today. 

With the exception of white and pike fish in some markets, there were no major reported shortages although in several markets it was slim picking for Matzoh, particularly handmade Shmura Matzoh, which as reported by Kosher Today earlier may have reached more than $85 million in sales. Israel’s export of Matzoh to the US is said to have declined by 11% after steady gains in the past five years which gave the Israelis a near 40% market share. At the same time, sales of hand-made Shmura Matzoh are said to have soared by nearly 15%. 

Many of the new items did well, including quinoa and almond flour. In Brooklyn and Monsey, prepared foods did better than in past years. Foodservice climbed by as much as 15% as the $100 million Passover hotel business was virtually completely sold out. Laurie, a Los Angeles mother of two teenage sons, said that Spring break for her two sons which coincided with Passover “substantially increased the number of people at my Seder.” 

As many as 80% of American Jews participate in at least one Seder, according to Jewish population studies, contributing to a dynamic Passover market, which represents nearly 40% of year-round kosher food sales. Retailers in Brooklyn, Monsey and Lakewood said that a growing community “was simply buying more,” an indication that demographics are playing a major role in the soaring kosher food market.

So when does the Passover 2015 season begin? According to some distributors, it already has as retailers take stock of 2014 as a guide to what they will be ordering next year.