Kosherfest 2010 Focuses On Moving Mainstream

Written By:
Nancy Trent, founder and president of Trent & Company Marketing Communications
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Secaucus, NJ—Many aspects of a kosher diet are demanding and seldom accessible, but for the followers of this strict religious diet, good news has emerged; old world kosher food classics are becoming mainstream. At the same time, Kosherfest 2010 proved that with innovative new products expanding the variety in the market, the rules may stay strict, but the taste and nutritional values are improving.

Kosherfest deserves a warm appraisal for its exceptional efforts not only to satisfy, but also to excite the kosher consumers of the world. Held this year at Meadowlands Exposition Center, this annual kosher food show is the largest in the world, bringing together more than 200 exhibitors in 54 categories.

The list of exhibitors to the show keeps expanding because kosher foods are considered “cleaner” by consumers due to their certification from an outside source.  Also, they are appropriate for the expanding Muslim and vegetarian markets.

Kevin Hopps, CEO of Strub's, makers of pickles, relish and sauces, said, “The show was fantastic.  Everyone takes Kosher food category seriously and we are expecting expansion and continued growth in the coming year. “

Like Hopps, in order to become mainstream, many exhibitors have made a conscious effort to be eligible to sell at Whole Foods Markets. Streit's now makes all-natural cake, stuffing and pancakes mixes, as well as muesli cereal for Passover and clean whole food soup mixes, while fellow kosher exhibitor, Garden Lite, featured all natural gluten-free veggie soufflés. Even big names, such as A & B’s famous fresh fish logs, now come in a variety of healthy options, such as less sugar, carb free and no sugar, salmon gefilte fish and white pike. Streits also partnered with Matzel Toff! to ensure year round gourmet-quality, chocolate-covered matzoh.

Another company to follow suit with its dairy-free vegan tapenades and pestos is Peaceworks. President Joshua Schwerz, a first-time exhibitor at Kosherfest 2010 and president of the gourmet company, explained his experience, “Kosherfest was fantastic and well attended. It had the right people of all levels of the kosher trade.” This vibe was noticeably consistent throughout the crowd. The upbeat attitude and active efforts of the annual event is part of the overall expansion of an improved market for a kosher lifestyle.

After the show, exhibitors told of their well-received products.  Steve Asis, sales manager of Worldwide Beverage Imports LLC, purveyors of KAH Day of the Dead Tequila, AGAVE 99 Tequila and ED HARDY Tequila raved, “I came away from the experience with a greater understanding of how kosher products are marketed and the expanding niche markets for kosher goods.” He continued, “The exhibitors and attendees alike were incredibly nice, curious and supportive. It was unbelievable how well my products were received.”

Many products received such appraisal for going healthy and working towards major kosher distribution, including one we can all get excited about: gluten-free pizza companies with pareve toppings and whole wheat crust. Shanel Green was also raved about, with its array of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.

The continuing trend of health and flavorsome foods will enrich the liveliness of the kosher diet. With tradeshows like Kosherfest and positive exuberance from consumers, kosher products can expect more mainstream attention.

Nancy Trent is the founder and president of Trent & Company Marketing Communications, a New York City public relations firm that specializes in healthy lifestyles (www.trentandcompany.com).  She can be reached at (212) 966-0024 or through email at nancy@trentandcompany.com.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, January 2011 (online 11/24/10)