US sales of kosher food products now exceed $17 billion annually. There are 3,400 companies certified with the Orthodox Union, one of the largest organizations to grant kosher certification, and there are 70,000 products in supermarkets and grocery stores that are kosher, up from 3,000 in 1970, according to the Kosher Advisory Service.
The kosher food market is experiencing 15 percent annual growth, according to industry estimates. What is notable is that only 15 percent of those who purchase kosher products do so for religious reasons, according to Mintel research. Most who seek out kosher products buy the items for food quality (62 percent), general healthfulness (51 percent) and food safety (34 percent).
Of the 11 million Americans who buy kosher products, 20 percent are Jewish. Other kosher consumers include Muslims, Seventh-Day Adventists, the lactose-intolerant and vegetarians. Twenty-eight percent of the American population is affected by food allergies or sensitivities. The precise labeling on kosher products makes it easy for consumers to find dairy-free and meat-free items.
There are more signs of growth for the kosher segment. Industry events such as the annual New York kosher food exposition, Kosherfest, attract an estimated 10,000 visitors and 500 exhibitors representing companies from 29 countries and 40 US states.
The kosher section of supermarkets is growing, and more mainstream products are kosher. Almost every major US manufacturer produces some kosher items. Chains like Whole Foods Market and Stop & Shop all carry more kosher products than ever.
Regarded by some as the “kosher Whole Foods,” Brooklyn, NY, supermarket Pomegranate opened a 20,000-square-foot megamart in Midwood in 2008. There’s no doubt that everything’s kosher, a boon for the surrounding Orthodox community. Three kitchens (dairy, meat and pareve) produce fresh mozzarella, stuffed cabbage, and house-brined corned beef. Challahs and sourdoughs are baked on-site, and prime rib steaks are dry-aged for 21 days.
Pomegranate offers more than 250 homemade delicacies including fish, rare cuts of meat, salads, sauces, dips and exotic cheeses under the highest standards of kashruth.
“We pride ourselves on offering unique fare, wide selections, and top quality, all at competitive prices,” says Avrohom Banda, the store’s owner and architect of this unique shopping experience. “Anything you can find at your local kosher grocer you can find here, but not vice versa. We employ culinary trained chefs, our own fish-monger and operate three state-of-the-art kitchens which produce homemade foods that are not manufactured or sold by any other kosher purveyor. We offer dishes never imagined for the Passover holidays.”
This unique store employs two supervisors and three mashgiachs to supervise the premises around the clock, and on-site kitchens prepare all foods under the hashgacha of Kehliah Kashrus, the Tartikover Rav. “From double-filtering our water to hand-checking lettuce with special lights for bug detection, we do kosher right,” the chain touts on its website (thepompeople.com).
World-class chefs create an astounding 175 entrees and specialty foods daily from scratch, with pure, natural ingredients. Shoppers are invited to rediscover old-world favorites like honey mustard corned beef, or enjoy such products as kugels, kishka and chopped liver that have been perfected by traditional chefs.
Cornerstones of the bakery include traditional baked challah, New York-style bagels, classic rugelach and bistro-worthy French bread. “From special-occasion cakes to simple country loaves, we make everything the old-fashioned way. And with our sugar-free and fat-free alternatives, you can feel free to indulge.”
Other specialty departments include specialty cheese and sushi. The store’s fromaggier makes private-label cheeses on the premises, and the store’s own sushi chef creates authentic classics and fusion fare, using fresh fish, produce and traditional Japanese ingredients.