April 20, 2009

Second Kosher Certification Drives Sales for Many Manufacturers

New York…It has become fairly common in markets like New York for kosher food products to feature both a national symbol and the certification of a well known rabbi or Chasidic group. The additional kosher certification is welcomed in many Chasidic communities like Williamsburg, Monroe, and New Square adding a market of as many as 250,000 people, according to many kosher experts. While national certification agencies historically resisted additional certifications over their symbols, they have in recent years welcomed what some call “endorsements” of their kosher certification. Sources say that while the “super kosher” entity may add its own mashgiach, in many cases it merely involves a review of ingredients or an occasional inspection while basically relying on the national certification. Some of the better selling brands this Passover like Gefen sport both the certification of the Orthodox Union (OU) and the Volover Rav. Others added the certifications of the rabbis of Nitra, Tartakov, New Square, and the CRC (Central Rabbinical Congress, not to be confused with the cRc, the Chicago Rabbinical Council).

While it was difficult to obtain sales numbers for products that had both certifications, one distributor said that it can represent as much as 30% - 40% of sales for some brands. He noted that Chasidim with their large families purchase well beyond their numbers.

In an unusual twist this Passover, Streit’s Matzoh was not accepted in stores on Long Island because it lacked a national certification. The Vaad of the Five Towns (subsequently endorsed by other kashrus committees) said that it could not endorse the Passover matzoh since Streit’s no longer had the Kof-K and relied only on the certification of Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik, son of the late Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik, who had certified Streit’s for decades. A spokesman for Streit’s had complained that the Vaad ruling was taken too late for them to have taken any action.