December 20, 2010

Vilifying the Growth of Kosher

I was responding to one of the many pre-Kosherfest press interviews I routinely give each year, when one of the questions struck me. “Is the boycott of liberal Jews who disagree with Israeli policy hurting Israeli products in the US?” First off, I was not aware of any organized boycott, particularly by Jews who have historically suffered most from boycotts. Second, the numbers provided by the Israel Export Institute for the first half of 2010 show a significant increase in the export of kosher foods. It reminded me of the reporters who went so far as to argue with me that Jews were “boycotting” Agriprocessor just after the infamous raid and then again when a new heksher tzedek was established by Conservative Jews to confirm that kosher products were produced in plants that were scrupulously observing social justice.

Setting aside any prejudices that I may have against any of these boycotts, there was an attempt to make it appear that the dynamic growth of kosher foods was affected by these campaigns when in fact the numbers showed no such effect. In each instance, I consulted with retailers and wholesalers and could not find an iota of truth that any of these campaigns were having an effect. Even in the days when Agriprocessor was in the news, there was not even a trace of a boycott as customers continued to be guided by quality and price. After a quarter of a century of experience in this industry, I have learned that kosher consumers do not bring their social consciousness to the marketplace. When they look for kosher products, they simply consider how the product will benefit them and at what price. Kosher consumers are too savvy to be taken by people with an agenda that they consider to be suspect and unkosher.