February 10, 2014

Retailers Hope Generation Y Returns to Passover Shelves

NEW YORK  It's no secret that sales of Passover foods in some Jewish communities actually declined in 2013, largely because grandchildren of loyal kosher consumers are not as attached to kosher, even on Passover (believed to constitute as much as 40% of kosher food sales). In some markets, sales declined by as much as 20%, say kosher sources. Once again, they point out, that the culprit is the fact that Jews born since the mid- 70’s are more likely to intermarry and to be unaffiliated. This, despite efforts by such programs as Birthright and Chabad to preserve Jewish identity amongst the younger generation. 

As a case in point, one distributor used a relative in Chicago as an example. The Falks had come from Russia in the 1930’s and were “extremely traditional” although by no means Orthodox. They took Passover very seriously with Mrs. Falk toiling to cleanse the apartment of any chametz, cooking for the Seder and buying only kosher certified items. The daughter Eleanor married a Reform Jew but still bought kosher for Passover especially in the latter years of the Falks life when they had their parents for the Seder. Their son, Gary married a Protestant woman and no longer participated in a Passover Seder. Said the distributor: “As you can see, kosher just lost a family.”

Despite these realities, kosher industry officials are hoping to rekindle some sense of nostalgia amongst generations Y and Z. Luckily, the decline in some of these smaller markets is by far offset by the extraordinary growth in the thriving Jewish markets. There is also the hope that even Jews who are otherwise estranged from Judaism will preserve the age old tradition of participating in at least one Seder, as Jewish population studies have repeatedly pointed out.