December 20, 2010

It’s All About Passover

Watching the brisk sales at some of the large kosher supermarkets this holiday season, I could not help but remind myself that for much of the kosher industry, planning is well underway for Passover 2011 (eve of April 18th). For the average customer Passover is light years away, more this year than in 2010 because of the leap year. There was already a great deal of whispering about some great new products that will be coming out for Passover. At least one manufacturer swore its employees to secrecy, lest the competition still try to upstage the new product introductions. Much of the veil of secrecy will be lifted at next month’s Kosherfest when many of the new products will be entered into the New Products Competition and ultimately displayed at the show.

One large retailer told me that his Passover set is “90% complete,” the 10% reserved for the “surprises” he finds at Kosherfest. It makes you wonder why the same effort does not go into the Rosh Hashanah season. Well, 40% of kosher food sales takes place around Passover. It is the most widely observed holiday on the Jewish calendar. And there is the notion that Passover is like the Frank Sinatra song about New York: “If you can make it on Passover you can make it on any Jewish holiday.” In the past decade, the defining moments came for many in the food industry with the new products they introduced for Passover: the bread crumbs, croutons, pizza, bagels and the like. It was in response to a clarion cry from the consumer: “Give us more on Passover!” and boy did they ever.