Going Kosher—Opportunities Abound Beyond Religious Markets

May 3, 2018

When you think of kosher foods, do you think of that special display of “Kosher for Passover” foods that appear on end caps at your local grocer every year? If so, you might be surprised to learn that’s just a small fraction of the kosher products available throughout the store year round. Around 40 percent of all products on typical supermarket shelves are kosher, according to the Institute of Food Technologists.

Altogether, kosher products accounted for over $24 billion in sales in 2017, reports Persistence Market Research—and thanks to a growing number and variety of consumers who are seeking out kosher products, that number is expected to rise to nearly $60 billion by 2025.

Most people know that kosher has something to do with the Jewish religion. But what exactly does it mean for a food to be kosher? In general terms, it means the food has been processed and prepared according to a specific set of biblical laws. These laws outline, for example, which types of meat can be eaten (including beef, lamb and chicken) and which cannot (such as pork and shellfish), how animals are slaughtered and which foods can and cannot be mixed (no meat with dairy, for example).

Part of the reason for the growth of kosher foods in the U.S. is the growing Muslim population. Islamic law has its own set of dietary rules, known as halal, which are similar to kosher rules. According to research firm Mintel, many Muslim consumers in the U.S. will buy kosher foods if they can’t find halal foods.

Beyond religion, “interest in kosher certification, as well as halal, has been growing among consumers who view them as marks of quality,” says Carl Jorgensen, Director of Thought Leadership for Daymon. “They actually have nothing to do with quality, but the perception is that having gone through a traditional system of approval creates a halo of purity and authenticity.”

While some brands clearly call out and market their kosher certifications, others simply show a fairly inconspicuous certification symbol on their package (such as U or K in a circle, or a K in a star). “Many manufacturers go through the expense of getting a kosher certification, then do nothing to tell the kosher consumer that their product is kosher,” stated Deborah Shapiro, Vice President of Kosher Network International in a recent press release. “It’s a missed sales opportunity to a fast-growing consumer base that is more diverse now than ever.”

Jorgensen agrees that opportunity extends to private brands. “There is a halo created by these certifications, so why not call it out? You don’t have to say anything about it or why it’s a benefit, just tell the customer it’s there. If you’ve spent the time and money to get the certification—why not take the credit for it and get the additional benefit,” he says.