Participants in a roundtable discussion about kosher foods were very opinionated this morning when the discussion turned to supermarkets and their private labels. The consensus: Trader Joe's does a great job catering to kosher consumers, while Whole Foods, not so much.
"You would think Whole Foods would be more knowledgeable," said Susan Berlin of Susan Sez it with Cake. She estimates that about nine in 10 products in the chain's 365 Everyday Value store brand line aren't certified Kosher. The news is surprising considering the chain's reputation, and ironic given the line's name and the session's title: Kosher isn't just for Passover anymore.
"I'll take a look at a beautiful 365 Everday flavored oil and 90% of the time I'll turn it around, can't find the kosher symbol, and it's back to the shelf," Berlin said.
Trader Joe's on the other hand isn't only making sure its corporate brands are certified kosher. It also takes the very simple and thoughtful step of producing a list of the kosher items sold throughout its stores, the certifying body that okayed its kosher production process, and how to contact that particular group.
Price Chopper, Schenectady, N.Y., is also doing a great job, noted Marty Stein, an account manager for specialty food distributor Tree of Life. He said the retailer's store brands are certified kosher wherever such a designation is possible. It also advertises in local Jewish papers and includes information related to the certification bodies in its ad circulars.
Stein explained that indicating whether a product is certified through the Orthodox Union or other kosher certification body is important since some kosher consumers will only trust certain certification bodies.