Kosherization of the World

This list is dedicated to my late Uncle Andy, who many times lividly complained: “The Jews are kosherizing the world! We food manufacturers are being forced into kosher certification to stay in buisiness, while the non-kosher consumer pays.” While I was marketing graduate student in the 1980s, he challanged me to write a book titled “Kosherization of the World”. At the time I found only one book about the subject which concluded that US rabbis argued among themselves so much that they could never get together to control more than a few suppliers to a few Orthodox markets. But the prophetic Andrei Andreich Shubin, founder- owner of Harlequin Confetti Corp. (candy decors), was right. 28% of customers bought kosher in 2003, and 40% of supermarket sales were kosher in 2005. By Andrei Conovaloff

Kosher markert dynamics, 2000-2008

The chart and table below show the number of new U.S. kosher- certified processed food products was rapidly increasing (13 times since 2003), while the percentage of customers who buy kosher decreased (half since 2003). Data is summarized from reports on this webpage, below.

     New Products
% Purchasers
2008 5,389  

2007 4,477


2005 1,491

2003 399


This may be the first sign of a reversal of the trend for kosherization of the world. This data appears to show a rush to sell to the emerging kosher non-Jewish market share at the beginning of the decade, which may have been aided by agressive selling, publicity, more trade shows, and use of the Internet to speed processing and lower some costs. But the increased cost of kosher certification during a down economy may have caused a reduction in customers who chose to buy kosher for reasons other than religion.

5,389 New Kosher Products in 2008

"Kosher was in first place with 5,389 new launches in 2008 in a top ten list of claims for new food and beverage products, followed by “all natural” and “no additives/preservatives”. This major surge is rapidly driving the number of kosher products sold in the U.S. with kosher certification to a record 112,500 products with sales of over $12 billion. ... The 2008 top ten claims for new products were: Kosher; all natural; no additives/preservatives; organic, microwaveable; transfat (low/no/reduced); fat (low/no/reduced); premium; low/no/reduced allergen; calorie (low/no/reduced)." — "MAJOR GAIN FOR KOSHER IN 2008: 5,389 New Kosher Products in 2008, Mintel Study Shows", KosherToday Newsletter, February 3, 2008.

13% of Americans bought kosher in 2008

Most of the 13% of Americans who bought kosher foods in 2008 are not Jewish and purchased for safety, not spiritualism. 40% of them bought at Wal-Mart which started selling kosher in 2003.  Major reasons cited:

Food quality 62%
General healthfulness   
Religous 30%
Food safety 17%

The kosher market share is down from 21% in 2007, and 28% in 2003. Of those who buy kosher, 14% follow kosher rules, 10% are similar to kosher, and 6% follow halal rules. Under-35's are the most likely to buy kosher food for religious or ethical reasons. — "Sacred Foods and Food Traditions - US - January 2008" (Mintel Reports); "Breaking News: 13% of Americans Buy Kosher Food, Latest Mintel Report Shows", KosherToday Newsletter, February 3, 2008.

Kosher Meat Gets Scarce

The shortage ... collapse of Agriprocessors Inc. ... the largest kosher meatpacking company ... 400 workers were arrested in an immigration raid ... plant has closed ... kosher meat supply (cut) to the bone ... paying up to 40 percent more ... half their normal order. — "Customers Stew As Kosher Meat Gets Scarce", Associated  Press, Dec. 1, 2008.

Is your chai kosher?

"While ... the majority of coffee produced in the U.S. was kosher, tea was quite another matter. Indeed, kashrus experts warned that with the growing number of flavored teas, there was a real concern about the flavorings." — "Is there any non-kosher tea in the U.S.?", Kosher Today, August 25, 2008

Few Jews own kosher companies

Less than two dozen kosher manufacturers are still owned by Jewish families. A small core of ethnic kosher companies, private label brands, Israeli and other foreign imports and the nation’s largest food manufacturers make up the kosher industry — over 110,000 items with kosher certification, selling $11 billion per year. Kosher brands like Manischewitz, Mrs. Adler’s, Rokeach, Horowitz/ Margaretten and Goodman’s are no longer owned by Jewish families but by investment companies. The vast majority of kosher companies are owned by large food companies. Jews can own stock in these companies and sit on the board with non-Jews. Kosherization is subcontracted to rabbinical organizations. — "Who are the owners in the kosher industry?", Kosher Today Newsletter. October 6, 2008.

Kosher customers shun generic “k”

“... customers have become more concerned with the integrity of the kashrus. ... preferring ... OU, OK, KOF-K, Star-K, and the cRc. ... a generic “k” product does "about a third of the business that a product with a symbol does", ... Dannon with the OU does 'way better than the Dannon products with a “k” (that use gelatin).' ” — Growing number of kosher customers shun generic “k” in favor of kashrus symbols”, Kosher Today Newsletter. January 22, 2008.

Rabbis research Category I foods

“...  foods that are inherently kosher and do not require specific kosher certification, ... dry roasted nuts should not be considered a Group 1 food because the same roasters are used for oil-roasted and dry- roasted nuts. ... 'nectar' may refer to a flavored syrup, ... rather than pure juice. Ascorbic acid is made via fermentation and most hashgachos haven’t considered it a Group 1 for many years. ...  Ascorbic acid is used in handling tomatoes as they dry in the fields (where the ascorbic acid prevents spoilage), ... glacial acetic acid, which is usually less expensive than wine vinegar. ...” —  Rabbis continue research into Category I foods”, Kosher Today Newsletter.  January 22, 2008.

Is Kosher Food Really Safer?

China to increase kosher food exports:
  • to counter attacks for substandard and unsafe products
  • most large U.S. food companies require kosher ingredients
  • kosher symbol seen as a huge marketing advantage
  • quality assurance, kosher supervisors are watching when government does not inspect all products
  • perception that kosher is better quality, though not always healthier due to high fat and salt
—  “Is Kosher Food Really Safer?”, Kosher Today Magazine. January 22, 2008. — "Keeping China kosher", Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2008.   — Also see: “China: the sleeping giant awakens”.

105,000 Kosher Products in 2007

More new 'Kosher' certified products launched in the U.S. in 2007 than any other category. Total kosher products now over 105,000. 55% who buy kosher foods said they thought they held a higher mark of health and safety.

Category ______________
   Kosher 3,984 728 4,712
   All Natural 2,023 405 2,428
   No Additive/Preservative 
1,780 379 2,159

 2007 Total —>   9,299   100% 

— “Israel is World's Largest Kosher Market With a Caveat”, Kosher Today Magazine, November 19, 2007.

Half of Jews are not kosher

"...more than 60% percent of Israel's 5.7 million people maintain some degree of kosher observance in their home ... the U.S., only 20% of the nation's estimated 6 million Jews eat kosher year-round and another 25% occasionally, such as during Jewish holidays. ... The number of [U.S. kosher] products (102,000) is nearly triple what it is in Israel." — "Israel is World's Largest Kosher Market With a Caveat", Kosher Today Magazine. November 19, 2007.

Non-Jews are 75% of kosher customers

"The kosher market is made up of 3 distinct and disparate groups..." which totals 10.1 million people — Orthodox Jews, other Jews, and non-Jews. Some American Jumper-Maksimist-Molokans are small part of the 75% of non-Jews who support the kosher industry, which inlcudes Muslims, lactose intolerant shoppers, and people who think kosher food is better. Surprise, Orthodox Jews are the minority, and non-Jewish buyers are about 3 times more than Jews.
Orthodox Jews 1 million 
Other Jews 1.6 million 
Non-Jews 7.5 million 
"Kosher Market Not Monolithic, Kosherfest Keynote Session Hears
", Kosher Today Magazine. November 13, 2007.

21% of Americans spend $10.5 billion on kosher products

"An estimated 11 million Americans ... buy some $10.5 billion of kosher products ... Costco, Target and Sam's Club are also adding many kosher certified products. ... ... 21% of Americans ... buy kosher products. ... 102,000 products to choose from, worth an estimated $225 billion. 2,000 new items were certified in the past 12 months ... 40% of kosher food sales took place around the Passover holidays "... Also: Dunkin' Donuts, and Starbukcks not all kosher. — "Kosher Consumption on the Rise as Kosher Community is Set to Gather for Kosherfest '07", Kosher Today Magazine. November 5, 2007.

921 Kosher certifications world-wide

"921 Kosher Symbols and Agencies World-Wide" are listed in the current Kashrus Magazine: "2008 Kosher Supervision Guide". "...many of the new certifiers are based in the New York area. Some rabbis are concerned that the new certifications will only add to the confusion in the marketplace. 'People recognize that there is money to be made in the kosher business..." — "Kosher Certifications Flood New York Market", Kosher Today Magazine. October 8, 2007.

3,290 New Kosher Products in 2006

17,779 food products were introduced in 2006; of those, 3,290 were certified kosher — 18.5%, according to the Mintel International Group, a global market research firm. Their new study on “Sacred Foods and Food Traditions” showed that "in 2000 the number of new kosher products was 211 and has been rising steadily since". The price for the complete report is US$ 2,995. — "Mintel Study Cites Dramatic Increase in New Kosher Products in 2006 to 3,290", Kosher Today Magazine. January 8 & 16, 2007.

Kosher Market Grows by 15% in 2005

(New York) Sales of kosher foods in the US grew by 15% in the last 12 months ... The annual survey ... indicates that this is the 10th straight year for double digit growth by the industry. ... an estimated 11.2 million Americans buy kosher food products on a fairly regular basis with nearly 3 times the amount (21% of all Americans) buying an occasional product, ... some of the growth is attributed to the core group of everyday kosher consumers (1.1 million), there is a growing number of consumers who say they buy kosher products for health and safety reasons. Others include vegetarians, Muslims, and members of other religious groups. The number of packaged good items on supermarket shelves is approaching 100,000 with nearly double that number for ingredient items. US sales of kosher certified items is estimated at $195 billion (nearly 40% of all foods sold) while the market for kosher products is $10.5 billion). There were more than 2500 new kosher certified items in the past 12 months. — "Kosher Market Grows by 15% in 2005 - 2006, New Survey Shows",
Kosher Today Magazine. October 30, 2006.

Is your borsch paganyi or kosher?

Should you only make borsch from vegetables imported from hothouses in Israel? Are most frozen vegetable infested?

(New York) "Many Rabbis say it is virtually impossible to remove bugs attached to vegetables ... To help consumers keep their produce bug-free the OU publishes a Guide to Preparing Fruits & Vegetables [PDF] ... Some restaurants and caterers now routinely advertise that they retain special rabbis to check the vegetables. ... rabbis warn that many pre-cut vegetables on the market test positive for bugs." — "Rabbis Still Bugged by Vegetables", Kosher Today Magazine. May 15, 2006.

Is your soda paganyi or kosher?

(New York) "You Don't Have to Be Jewish to Love Passover Coca Cola." ... which uses sugar instead of the high fructose corn syrup. ... consumers who are allergic to corn also stock up on the Passover beverage because they suffer severe allergic reactions to corn. ... I was trying to avoid the `evil’ high fructose corn syrup found in practically every soft drink and `fruit’ drink today. It seemed a worthwhile endeavor.”... a blind tasting ... reported that a co-worker who stopped drinking Coke years ago put two identical cups through the test. “She swirled the cups and stuck her nose into them. She liked the Passover Coke better. So did I.” If Coke is looking for a potential new winner, perhaps its Passover version fits the tab.” — "Consumers Say Passover Coke is Actually Better", Kosher Today Magazine. May 2, 2006.

Is your cellphone paganyi or kosher?

(Jerusalem, AP) Most American Molokans and Jumpers / Maksimisti think kosher refers only to food, and a cellphone cannot be "unclean" [Russian: паганый, paganyi]. The Associated Press reports: "...The kosher phone is stripped down to its original function: making and receiving calls. There's no text messaging, no Internet access, no video options, no camera. More than 10,000 numbers for phone sex, dating services and other offerings are blocked. A team of rabbinical overseers makes sure the list is up to date. These are the same rabbis who have told followers to scorn television and radio. But mobile phones are considered just too essential ..." — Google search "kosher cell phone", March 31, 2006.

OU Education Programs on Kashrus

(New York, NY) The Orthodox Union’s Kosher (Kashrut) Division announced plans for two new programs in which its in-house specialists will share their knowledge and expertise on a wide variety of topics with kosher consumers and other interested individuals around the world. The programs are Kosher Tidbits, a comprehensive series of 15-minute broadcasts on OU Radio ( which will be available as well on the OU and OU Kosher websites; and a lecture series in which the OU experts will hit the road to share their knowledge with audiences across North America. OU Kosher recently established an internal Communications and Marketing arm under the direction of Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran. The first program, Kosher Tidbits, coordinated by Rabbi Dr. Safran and assisted by Rabbi Eliyahu W. Ferrell – a Rabbinic Coordinator who oversees numerous chemical industrial plants – will feature RC’s who will make presentations on OU Radio that can be downloaded at the OU website,, and the OU Kosher website, The programs will be targeted to rabbis, scholars, students - indeed, everyone who keeps kosher and who wants to better understand the intricacies of kosher law, including the contemporary food industry. ...— "OU Steps Up Its Education Programs on Kashrus", Kosher Today Magazine. February 21, 2006.

40% of 2005 Grocery Sales Certified Kosher

(Washington, DC) An estimated $190 billion of the nation's 2005 grocery store sales of $467.2 billion is certified kosher. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Census, general grocery sales rose by 4.3% over 2004, but kosher food sources estimate that kosher food sales for the 9th straight year reached double digits (10% - 15%). The 4.3% gain is the largest one-year gain in at least the past 13 years for which comparable data is available. Overall food and beverage stores saw sales rise 4.9% to $522.6 billion, with December's preliminary total jumping 6.0% over the same month last year. Beer, wine and liquor stores, meanwhile, continue to see sales climb, rising 9.5% in November over the prior year. The addition of beverage brings total US kosher food and beverage sales to $208 billion. While the figure does not represent kosher food sales (people who buy kosher because the product is kosher are estimated at $10 billion), it does show the growing importance of kosher to both manufacturers and retailers.— "10 Most Interesting Kosher Stats of 2006", Kosher Food.

90,000 kosher food products

(New York) The number of kosher certified products on grocery shelves in the US has soared to 90,000, a survey by LUBICOM Marketing Consulting reveals on the eve of Kosherfest ’05, which opens next Tuesday November 15 th for its annual two-day run at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. There are as many as 250,000 ingredient items that are used to produce kosher foods, certification agencies say. Today’s mega supermarkets that carry upward of 80,000 products may include as many as 25,000 kosher certified items. In 2005, as many as 2500 new items became kosher, but most were from line extension. “Unlike previous years, most of the new products did not emanate from large bellwether food companies that made news by going kosher; they were mostly from smaller companies and new products from larger companies,” said Menachem Lubinsky of LUBICOM. — "Record 90,000 Kosher Products on Grocery Shelves", Kosher Today Magazine. November 7, 2005.
(New York) Food industry executives gathered here for the Fancy Food Show will no doubt notice that nearly 40% of food items on display at the show (Jacob K. Javits Convention Center) have a kosher symbol. They are part of some 90,000 packaged foods now on grocery shelves with some sort of kosher certification. The biggest growth so far in ’05 comes not from new companies opting for the kosher symbol, but from line extension. An even more dramatic increase was the number of ingredient items that have secured kosher certification, including a significant number in Southeast Asia. There are as many as 250,000 ingredients that are supported by a kosher letter of approval. Industry experts expect the number of kosher certified products to continue to grow for the remainder of ’05 with a significant presence by companies overseas. — "Number of Consumer Goods with Kosher Symbol Tops 90,000", Kosher Today Magazine, July 11, 2005.

Kosher is big business

There's never been a better time to be peddling mock meats. ... deli slices that merely look like bologna ... meat impostors ... chicken, bacon and ground beef--are low in fat and made with ... soy. ... kosher certification ... an ancient food-safety program. From the Hebrew word meaning "fit" or "proper," ... non-Jewish ...  majority of the kosher market. ... kosher trademarks give products an instant upgrade. ... food sales are growing by about 1% to 2% annually ... kosher food sales have increased more than 10% a year for more than two decades. ... "crossover kosher consumer"--a group that includes not just vegetarians and the vegetarian-inclined, but vegans and people who are lactose-intolerant (estimated to be 20% of the population) or suffer from food allergies. ... Hindus, Muslims and Seventh-day Adventists ... more than 75,000 kosher consumer packaged goods (up from 60,000 in 2000), with sales of US$165 billion annually. ... kosher food sales in Canada grew almost 20% in one year, from $480 million in 2000 to $575 million in 2001. ... PepsiCo Inc., Kraft ... and Krispy Kreme ... Campbell Soup Co. ... Procter & Gamble ... Crisco vegetable shortening in 1911. Coca-Cola ... 1930s. ... H. J. Heinz Co. ... pork and beans ... Hebrew National ... "We answer to a higher authority"... the first national brand to bring kosher to the mainstream. ... For a product to be kosher, all of its ingredients must first be certified kosher. ... the majority of food ingredients in North America (as many as 70% of them) already meet kosher standards. ... kosher certification has become the standard. ... Once it's kosher for one, it's kosher for all. ...  The basic annual fee for kosher supervision of packaged products ranges from about $2,000 to $5,000 ... sterilizing equipment ... high temperatures ... blowtorch, hot coals or hot steam before the equipment can be used to produce kosher products. — "Funny, you don't look kosher: An old quality-control standard is big business", Keter Malchut Israel, March 28, 2005.

Bring home the kosher bacon

"Kosher food is not all about chopped liver. It's salsa and sushi--upscale, gourmet foods," ... "the kosherization of America." ... $35 billion industry in 1994 ... to $165 billion today. ... due to non-Jewish consumers' ... 28 percent ... knowingly purchased a kosher product ... Kosher World ... Los Angeles ... "bringing kosher to the mainstream and the mainstream to kosher." ... Most consumers have very likely bought kosher food without even realizing it. Some 75,000 products are certified kosher in the United States. Coca-Cola ... since the 1930s, Oreos ... Campbell's Soup ... Quaker ... the symbol makes the price worth it. ... Muslims, Seventh- Day Adventists, vegetarians, and the lactose-intolerant look for kosher labels ... sense that their food is safer. ... Finer foods are also getting a kosher makeover. ... Wal-Mart ... Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Market — "Bring home the kosher bacon," US News & World Report, Nov.2, 2003.

28% bought kosher products in 2003

"...28 percent of the country's population saying they have knowingly purchased a kosher product, while only 8 percent said they bought kosher foods for religious reasons, ... Other religious groups, including Muslims and Seventh-day Adventists, whose dietary laws are similar to kashrut, often turn to kosher products when food prepared according to their own religious codes is not available. Albertsons has kosher sections in all of its 1,750 grocery stores. ... Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, has begun to offer kosher food in about 600 supercenters and neighborhood markets [about 10% of stores worldwide in 2003]..."  — "You Don't Have to Be Jewish to Eat Kosher", The New York Times. June 28, 2003. Source data from: "Kosher Foods Market - US Report", Mintel International Group Ltd. Mar. 1, 2003, 99 Pages. 

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