US Kosher trend reflected in Australian Kosher market growth

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 17th January 2013

In the past few years, one of the most popular claims for many new products manufactured in the US has been that they are Kosher certified.  

As Australia develops as a reliable and safe food supplier to the world, Kosher is almost considered mandatory for export to the US.

A recent study by leading consumer research company, Mintel, shows that a majority of consumers  who buy Kosher foods in America perceive Kosher packaged products as being safer, which may be due to the rigorous auditing methods and the near exclusion of animal-derived ingredients in Kosher processed products.

This is further verified by an integrated marketing survey conducted in the USA which showed the Jewish community represented only 44% of all Kosher consumers.

Given the relatively small Jewish percentage of the total population, some of the figures are quite surprising:

–  28% of all products sold in the US are kosher certified

–  75% of all ingredients manufactured are kosher certified

–  there are more than 90,000 different Kosher consumer food products

–  US supermarkets carry approximately 13,000 Kosher products lines on their shelves

–  generic kosher certified brands demonstrate 6% growth as opposed to 2% in non kosher equivalents

–  products that are kosher certified, outperform their non-certified competitors by 40%

–  21% of the US retail market is preferentially Kosher

–  Kosher consumers spend 26% more on food products

Mr Yankel Wajsbort, General Manager of Kosher Australia, the largest Kosher certification authority in Australia, told Australian Food News today that the US trend is being echoed in the Australian market.

“In 2003 there were barely 50 local manufacturers certified as Kosher in Australia and a total of a hundred products. In the subsequent 10 years, more than 500 local manufacturers have acquired Kosher certification for some 13,000 Kosher products in Australia.

“In Melbourne there are over 20 Kosher restaurants and takeaways compared with only three that were in operation in 2003. Furthermore Kosher supervised caterers prepared more than 500,000 kosher meals in Melbourne last year,” he said.

Wajsbort said Coles had commissioned Kosher Australia to ‘mark up’ eight stores in areas with large Jewish populations.

“This involved placing an insert with our Kosher symbol next to the shelf labels of products that are kosher,” Wajsbort said.

“We monitor each of the stores – 5 in Melbourne and 3 in Sydney– regularly.  Coles have told us that turnover for the lines that are marked Kosher have increased by more than 10% over and above regular turnover,” he added.

Wajsbort named some of the well-known local manufacturers now carrying Kosher –as including Heinz, Kraft, Nestle, Sugar Australia, Orica, Cheetham, Bega, Fonterra, Murray Goulburn, Lion Nathan, SPC Ardmona, CUB, Mars, and Capilano – “just to name a few”, he said.

Australian manufacturers have watched the US growth and anticipate Kosher can create additional marketing opportunities.

As Kosher certification has developed, the process is being streamlined by Kosher Australia to make the exercise simpler.

Kosher certification is typically set for a 12 month period and involves a number of relatively simple steps:

1) The manufacturer must complete a checklist that focuses on the production processes, ingredients used and the cleaning regimes employed as part of production changeover between products. This data is reviewed and issues are resolved.

2) A site audit takes place.

3) A service level agreement and a kosher certificate are issued, and the certified products are listed in various consumer guides that are distributed in hard copy and online.

Kosher Australia’s Yankel Wajsbort also attributes sensitivity to meat and animal-derived ingredients as an extra reason why Kosher is so popular among vegetarian and vegan consumers. If a Kosher product is designated ‘pareve’, then it means it is being also certified to contain no meat or dairy ingredients.