April 22, 2013

Record Passover Inquiries at Kashrus Agencies

NEW YORK — Thousands of consumers preparing for Passover used new apps by several kashrus agencies in a dramatic uptick of inquiries to kashrus agencies. Although most of the major kashrus agencies publish an annual guide and also make it available on-line, kashrus officials say that they even saw an increase in the number of calls to their hotlines. The officials also reported on a significant increase in attendance at seminars sponsored by the agencies. The reason, say kashrus officials and retailers, is the sheer number of products now available to kosher consumers. 

During a live call-in program on the Zev Brenner show, some questions related more to possible changes in the status of a heretofore kosher item than on new products. At the OU, the Kosher Consumer Hotline answered 5,032 phone calls. More than 80,000 unique visitors visited the OU Website during the Passover season and 1,200  emails were received. The OU Kosher App for smart phones, which is available year-round, but was adapted for Passover for consumers on iPhones, iPads, iPods, iPod Touch and Android, had more than 5,000 downloads in the weeks before Passover. The kosher app is becoming more than a Passover service at other agencies as well. 

The cRc in Chicago offers an app for year-round and even included an Haggadah for Passover. The cRc App called ASKcRc includes information on kosher certification, beverages, liquors, foods, fruits & vegetables, Slurpees, and medicines. Even Kosherfest got into the app act this Passover when it released a new app with upscale Passover recipes.

The Smartphone, say retailers, has become “a game changer” as consumers consult the apps at point of purchase. Despite the advance of technology, many rabbis encourage shoppers to “do it the old fashion way” by consulting rabbis “the way it was always done.”