SECAUCUS, N.J. -- Ethnic marketing has been the hot button for some time now, and the products displayed at the 13th annual Kosherfest trade show reflected this trend, vastly expanding on traditional Jewish fare.
The show, held earlier this month at the Meadowlands Exposition Center here, featured things like Asian frozen appetizers, dairy-free stuffed shells, manicotti and lasagna, and Soy Delicious nondairy ice cream from Turtle Mountain, Eugene, Ore., distributed by Ice Cream Partners USA, owners of Haagen-Dazs and Nestle.
In fact, many said the show, with nearly 5,000 products and 450 exhibitors, resembled the industry's Fancy Food Shows more than it has in the past.
On the show floor, crossover items such as Dare Foods' Bremner crackers were in a glass display case along with Affinity Beverages' Ginger Beer and other gourmet-level certified kosher products at the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade booth. Gerry Shamdosky, vice president for finance and administration for NASFT, New York, told SN there is a new partnership between the NASFT and the formerKosher Food Distributors Association, Chicago, and there will be a kosher pavilion for the first time at the January Fancy Food Show in San Francisco.
After the KFDA voted to dissolve that organization, the NASFT appointed KFDA's board as an advisory council so that its programs can continue under the NASFT umbrella. "There's no question that kosher is a specialty product," said Shamdosky. "The appeal goes far beyond those who are religious and following dietary laws."
In fact, during Kosherfest, a panel discussed the new interface among organic foods, health foods and kosher foods. The organic and health food aisle in supermarkets is frequently adjacent to the kosher section, noted Menachem Lubinsky, president of Integrated Marketing Communications, New York, producer of the show. "This creates enormous opportunities for kosher," he said.
Benjamin Tabatchnick, CEO of Tabatchnick Fine Foods, Somerset, N.J., said "There's been almost a silent transformation from kosher being a religious connection, to a clean food." Tabatchnick, maker of frozen soups from recipes dating back to 1905, is co-packer of the Woodstock organic brand of frozen soups, which also had a presence at the show.
"To the consumer, kosher is like another pair of eyes," said Eli Schlossberg, regional sales manager for Gourmet Award Foods, Albany, N.Y.
More than 65,000 processed foods from companies large and small have kosher certification, and more than 10 million Americans eat kosher products, according to the show's organizers. Kosher food is a $5.8 billion market, growing by 15% a year. Forty-five percent of kosher food sales are made to Jews. About 40% of the annual kosher food sales are for the Passover holidays.