NEW YORK (FNS) -- Some retailers are seeing more demand for kosher meats as the overall demand for kosher perishables increases. Some retailers, such as Food Markets Northwest in Seattle, have gone so far as to open a dedicated kosher meat section with kosher hot dogs, turkeys, chickens, sausages and other products.
"We are getting more requests, but at the same time, we are trying to pay more attention to [customers'] needs," said Frank Griboski, meat manager at Food Markets.
Food Markets is not the only retailer getting more involved in the business. The overall kosher market jumped to $35 billion in 1997, a 41% increase in five years, according to a new study from Kalorama Information, based here. There are 304 kosher certification symbols, including 100 added in the past two years, the research firm said.
Although Jewish customers make up about 29% of the kosher market, about 19% are Muslims and Seventh Day Adventists and about 16% are simply health-conscious or food allergic, said Menachem Lubinsky, president of Integrated Marketing Communications, in the Kalorama Information study.
Industry observers and retailers have noted that -- as consumers become more conscious of food-safety issues -- the processes used by which meats are certified kosher are perceived to result in purer, and therefore safer, finished products, produced without fillers, preservatives, and the like.
"We are seeing the consumer really looking at kosher as a safety net, another eye taking a look at the product," said Dale Kamibayashi, director of grocery purchasing at Wild Oats Markets in Boulder, Colo. In addition to kosher meats, the chain is carrying several new kosher grocery products.
Although John Bitali, senior vice president of perishables at Gelson's Markets in Encino, Calif., has seen growth in the kosher meat market, he said it reflects the growth in the entire meat category. "There has been a nominal increase over the past few years, but it is proportionate with the category," he said.
Gelson's carries fresh kosher poultry, frozen poultry and several kosher lunch meats and hot dogs. Bitali said the chain has not been able to carry the variety of fresh kosher meats he would like because of the lack of distribution in the area.
Meanwhile, the Kosher market is expected to continue to grow: Kalorama predicts that sales will reach $59 billion by 2002.