December 20, 2010

Is There a Future for Online Kosher Growth?

This is a question that repeatedly comes my way, even as similar inquiries are being asked about the food industry in general. The evidence is that the answer is a resounding yes, not because of any dramatic change in the kosher consumer’s buying habits, but more so as a reflection of lifestyle and demographics. Kosher consumers, namely Orthodox and many Conservative Jews, are no longer concentrated exclusively in the large urban centers. Smaller communities continue to spring up in many parts of America that were once thought to be off limits for any practicing Jew. While local retailers attempt to accommodate small communities, the offerings are frequently limited, which makes online shopping a necessity. With reports that online food and beverage sales are now 1% of overall sales (or $6.5 billion), they may already be growing faster in the kosher sector. In addition to the small communities, online shopping has become a way of life for many Jewish singles, emissaries who travel the country to conduct outreach work, shut-ins, and many younger consumers who are making online shopping in general a way of life.

Some of the larger kosher on-line sites like confirm the demographic mix of on-line kosher consumers but they are also noticing significant shifts amongst traditional kosher shoppers. Although many still prefer the real feel of a supermarket, they are beginning to go on-line for specific specialty and gourmet items. Others are forced to go on-line because of their busy lifestyle or when the weather may be too cold for a mother with infants at home. Many of these “occasional” on-line shoppers ultimately convert to become regulars, the on-line kosher grocers say. For all of these reasons, I am rather confident of a bright future for on-line kosher shopping.