May 31, 2011

Is Israel Competition to US Kosher Manufacturers? No, it’s Part of the new Kosher Economy

A leading kosher manufacturer whom I have known for years was uncharacteristically upset about a growing trend in the US kosher market. For years, he was always very complimentary about Kosherfest and many of other projects. But in a chance encounter, he opined: “The Israeli products are killing us.” It didn’t take me long to figure out that he was referring to the constant flow of new products that are manufactured in Israel and finding their way on US shelves. And that, I said, was really a good thing. Israeli food manufacturers have certainly come a long way in the past decade. Many are today on the cutting edge of technology in producing a broad array of health products, including gluten-free and kosher for Passover items never imagined to be kosher enough for the holiday. Some of these products are popular with mainstream markets in Europe and elsewhere. The packaging is also very close to the European standards and certainly a vast improvement of over just a few years ago. The quality of the foods is unquestionably superb. To top it all off, the products are price competitive and are doing very well in the marketplace, thank you.


So I suggested to my friend that he get with the program. Most large manufacturers now import Israeli foods, which has become a major profit center for them. Instead of viewing the Israeli products as competition, they now routinely look for new and creative products in Israel. Instead of only thinking of Israel as a source for imports, they now also look to the Israeli market as a potential new market. In reality, we are in a new era of a “kosher economy.”