BOISE, Idaho -- People who buy kosher foods and consumers of natural and organic products are overlapping groups, a trend retailers are recognizing in their merchandising approaches.
Albertsons here is piloting a new merchandising program at a Jewel-banner store in Evanston, Ill., in which its Wild Harvest natural/organic department is positioned next to its kosher department.
"We've seen tremendous crossover," said Yakov Yarmove, the retailer's ethnic category manager.
Likewise, Giant Eagle's Nature's Basket natural/organic sections will be positioned next to new kosher store-within-a-store departments opening in two Pittsburgh stores located in Bethel Park and Shady Side, said Lynne Glatter, kosher consultant for the Pittsburgh-based retailer.
The departments will include a full-service deli, prepared foods, smoked fish, frozens, dairy and a 50-foot section of packaged goods. The Bethel Park location is slated to open Dec. 8, while Shady Side will open next spring.
"The company decided to focus more on kosher, so it pulled out all the stops and said, 'Let's do it right,"' Glatter said.
Research shows there's a strong connection between natural/organic and kosher foods. Mintel International Group has found that 55% of people who buy kosher do so because they believe it's safer or healthier. "The same people who are buying natural are buying kosher," said Marcia Mogelonsky, senior research analyst for Mintel. She was a keynote speaker at the recent Kosherfest food trade show in New York.
Natural/organic foods were in abundance at Kosherfest. New products on exhibit included organic and soy-free baby food and cookies from Healthy Times, Poway, Calif.; organic pizza, crackers and other snacks from My Family Farm, Fort Thomas, Ky.; and organic extra-virgin olive oil from Halutza, Jersey City, N.J.
Kosher products for children also are on the rise. Other products at the show included BT Foods' Licorice Rope Rips from Quality Frozen Foods, New York; and Sebastopol, Calif.-based Traditional Medicinals' line of Just for Kids organic "cold-care" tea, which won in the Best New Beverage category in Kosherfest's new-product competition.
Steve Ballirano, vice president of sales for Stop & Shop, Quincy, Mass., was impressed by the amount of cookies, candy and other kids' products at the show. "We're interested in kids because they drive their parents' purchasing power," he said.