Jerusalem…by Idele Ross, Kosher Today Middle East Bureau Chief…Eden Teva Market, Israel’s first chain of retail groceries specializing in organic and whole foods, is now certified kosher under the supervision of the Israeli rabbinate. The markets are owned by Guy Provisor, the businessman who founded the chain in 2003. He told the Index website that they never had kashrut status because most of the products were imported from the Far East. During the last year, the company has acquired 700 new items which are now certified kosher - mostly dairy products and Oriental foods such as seaweed and sushi which are imported. He said the kashrut certification will cost the chain $150,000. Provisor emphasized that Teva market branches were never open on the Sabbath. Even though there was no kashrut certification, they never sold products containing seafood or pork so going kosher was natural. There are 10 Teva markets throughout the country. Provisor said the company plans on opening several more branches through 2011.
New York…FreshDirect, a highly successful home delivery food service, has stepped up its efforts to target kosher consumers. Now In its eighth year, FreshDirect opened its “kosher store” in 2003, according to spokesperson Melanie Banks. “Two years ago we stopped cutting kosher meat/poultry in house and transitioned to some of the most notable well known brands in the industry like Empire Kosher and Meal Mart.” She added: “We have since expanded our offerings to include Kosher Valley and Teva.” The latest initiative to advertise FreshDirect’s kosher offering in Jewish newspapers is to “educate” the community about FreshDirect’s broad kosher offering, available at everyday low prices. While FreshDirect offers a wide range of kosher meats and other kosher items, customers buying kosher products from FreshDirect can take advantage of their home delivery in convenient 2 hour delivery windows.
FreshDirect uses a direct distribution model with in-house, overnight production that cuts out the middleman and helps it offer farm-fresh food at everyday low prices. FreshDirect is an online shopping experience that is highly personalized with smart shopping features that help customers track their favorites, remember missed items, shop from previous orders and receive recommendations on new foods they might like. Thanks to expert daily ratings, FreshDirect customers can easily shop for best of the season produce and seafood as well as a full line of household products, health and beauty items. Kosher consumers can also avail themselves from similar delivery services from kosher.com.
New York…The story of a pending PepsiCo – Osem Hummus war first broke in Kosher Today last June but the first shot was fired last week by Tribe with an ad in Jewish weeklies “Not all Hummus is all Natural.” Tribe was apparently challenging the highly successful Sabra brand by taking on the salad giant with the natural claim. A Brooklyn gourmet supermarket has also been highly successful in promoting its own brand of “natural” hummus as opposed to the Sabra brand which includes preservatives and enjoys a much longer shelf life. Sabra USA is owned by PepsiCo. Osem, 54% of which is owned by Nestle, acquired Tribe in 2008, which is now Osem’s brand of salads in the US. Although it acquired the Sabra brand in Israel, it does not own the US brand and apparently cannot use the name Sabra. The US Sabra is credited with expanding hummus to mainstream consumers with a marketing campaign that includes the use of television. A spokesman for a major supermarket chain told Kosher Today that “hummus is hot and for the moment Sabra owns the category.” Tribe is obviously hoping that by playing the natural card, they will be able to cut into Sabra’s steadily growing dominance in the national hummus market. While Sabra seems to be devoting most of its attention outside of the kosher market, Tribe seems anxious to first carve out a strong niche in the kosher market.
New York…Vodka brands from around the world are obtaining kosher certification as are other alcohol beverages. Kosher wine and spirit experts say that there has been a significant increase in demand of alcohol beverages, particularly by younger kosher consumers. The Orthodox Union recently announced that the coveted Glenmorangie of Scotland had received its kosher certification. More recently it added its certification to varieties of single malt whisky manufactured by Tomintoul Distillery. Me Oko, a line of American made Vodka was recently certified by Khal Adas Jeshurun, based in Washington Heights in New York. Kosher wine experts say that it has become fashionable amongst many young Orthodox Jews to consume the alcohol products at weekly Kiddush sessions in the synagogue, at weddings and at social gatherings. One expert said that many are “copying practices at a Farbrengen, the gatherings made famous by the Lubavitch movement at which Chasidim find spiritual satisfaction in a gathering laced with stories of the late Rebbe, singing and dancing, and consuming vodka. He noted that the Vodka was as much a part of the latest trend as hanging out at a high-end kosher restaurant on a Thursday night or eating Sushi. Not all Orthodox Jews are happy about this development as some rabbis have banned the alcohol from “Kiddush clubs” and other shul sponsored events. While the manufacturers have noticed an uptik in demand, alcohol consumption remains taboo in many quarters, but as one youth said: “Give me some good herring, a wholesome kichel and it is automatic that I wash it down with some Vodka.”
Tel Aviv…Roy Gerson and his wife Sharon Moshkowitz thought their life was good together as IT specialists. When Roy began to “play” with chocolate in “an artsy way,” Sharon thought that it was a nice hobby to have. But when Roy began to share his artistry with family and friends, Sharon took notice: “I looked at the 1,000 boxes of chocolates on Erev Rosh Hashanah that all but filled my house, and thought that maybe Roy is right in that this could be a business.” Four and a half years later, the couple no longer debates the issue. They are partners in Israel’s most successful chocolate venture. The Tel Aviv store was termed Israel’s leading boutique chocolate shop by Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s leading daily. Roy is now a celebrity in his own right, including frequent appearances on TV. The Gersons now have 8 shops with a major production facility in Petah Tikvah. The shapes of his bottles, the themes of his chocolates, and the design on every piece of chocolate are so unique that people come from around the world just to taste a small sample. His chocolates, most certified by the Chief Rabbinate and some by the Badatz, are the gifts of choice on the eve of Jewish holidays. Roy’s celebrity status is not so much because of his retail success, but because of his constant innovation that ushers in many new products on a regular basis. Roy and Sharon are thinking about taking their successful chocolate boutique model overseas, perhaps to the kosher market in the US. As good as life was for the Gersons in their previous life, it is a lot sweeter after their major success.
New York…The sharp decline of the Euro is already wreaking havoc for many Israeli food exporters who suddenly find the coveted European market an unpredictable destination. In interviews with a number of food industry sources in Israel, it appears that the losses from the decline in the Euro have in some cases wiped out potential profits. They say that many food exporters who had always considered the US kosher market secondary to Europe because of its proximity and competitive climate are re-evaluating their position and are actively considering increasing exports to the US. This comes at a time when many American kosher consumers are already feeling the brunt of what some have called the “Israeli invasion.” This past Shavuos, Tnuva published a recipe booklet with dairy dishes for the holiday while Strauss promoted some of its better ice cream products. Just before the holiday, a delegation of food executives representing the Kedem group was in Israel to tour some of the plants that manufacture products that are imported by Kedem. The group was led by Nathan and David Herzog and included Yakov Yarmove from SuperValu as well as Ron Wise from DPI. They visited Strauss-Elite, Beigel and Beigel, Prigat, Yehuda Matzo, Affifit and Wissostky Teas, all companies that Kedem now represents in the US kosher market. Menachem Lubinsky of LUBICOM Marketing Consulting will be joined by Bill Springer of Diversified Business Communications, co-producers of Kosherfest, in several days of meetings with Israeli food officials later this month as part of a tour organized by the Israel Export Institute.
New York…The decision by Gatorade to secure the kosher certification of the Orthodox Union (OU) was due to the brand’s recognition of new opportunities with younger kosher consumers. Nearly six months after Kosher Today (October 13, 2009) broke the story that both Gatorade and Tootsie Roll would soon add kosher certification, Gatorade itself broke the news in full page ads and press releases in Jewish publications. In fact, in its ad, Gatorade addresses the emergence of a younger more health conscious kosher consumer. Gatorade noted that its new OU symbol on the label “means the athletes in your family can now have the same advantage the pros have had since 1965.” Gatorade’s kosher certification also puts its parent company PepsiCo on a more level playing field with Coca Cola whose PowerAde brand has had OU certification for years. Gatorade has for years dominate the energy beverage category which it hopes to retain with its new kosher certification. Carbonated soft drinks have in recent years lost ground to the energy drinks. The retail dollar value of U.S. carbonated soft drink sales was up about 2.7 percent to $72 billion due to the popularity of higher-priced energy drinks and price increases of traditional soft drinks. The kosher beverage market is estimated at $1.5 billion, about 10% of the overall kosher market.
Tel Aviv… With nearly 70% of Israelis (including non-Jews) preferring kosher products, sales of kosher certified products are approaching $11 billion. A new report by the Foreign Agriculture Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, notes that Israelis also prefer imported kosher foods, which in 2009 was valued at $1.8 billion out of $14.4 billion in overall food sales. The report, prepared by the FAS offices in Tel Aviv and Cairo, notes that private label is still very much on the ground floor in Israel. It estimates that only 5% of products sold in Israel are private label products with the Shufersal supermarket marketing 1100 such products. The Israel food industry continues to be known for its innovation, introducing 3000 new products annually. Approximately 6500 grocery stores serve Israel’s 7.4 million people who on average spend about $7100 for food annually. While 56% of Israelis shop in supermarkets, the country also has 470 convenient stores. Israelis are eating out more than ever, to the tune of $2.7 billion. Despite being technologically advanced, only 1% of Israelis shop on the Internet for food. FAS says that the appetite of Israelis for imported foods is an opportunity for kosher food manufacturers and distributors from abroad, particularly the US. Amongst the foods Israelis could use more of, says FAS, is dried fruits, fresh apples and pears, cereals, powdered milk, and frozen vegetables. It also took note of the country’s growing interest in organic foods.
Flushing, NY… by Elie Appleson, Feature Editor… Several decades ago, every neighborhood had local milkmen who delivered milk, eggs, and other necessities right to their door. As grocery stores advanced, the convenience of having products delivered regularly seemed to have been lost… until now. Violet’s Bake Shop in Queens has expanded to the internet and brings their customers freshly baked goods to their doorstep.
Having 25 years of bakery management, Violet opened the doors to her own bakery, specializing in Hungarian desserts, just one year ago. The bake shop has quickly become a fixture in the neighborhood, as a place to pick up anything from delicious homemade tasting challah to more exotic desserts. With the help of her son and partner, Violet has made her freshly baked goods available to the entire country by launching her website last month, www.violetsbakeshop.com. All goods are baked in Queens and can be delivered from coast to coast, as early as the next day. “We are thrilled to be bringing our delicious kosher bakery into the homes of so many Jews who are looking for something extra special for their shabbos meal or special occasion,” Violet’s son, Michael said.
The kosher industry is becoming more innovative than ever. Not only are unique products available, but new and convenient services within the kosher market are being offered in a way we never could have imagined.