From: "Leonard Pulver"
Newsgroups: soc.culture.jewish,can.general,soc.culture.usa,soc.culture.australian,us.pol itics Sent: Wednesday, December 24, 2003 7:22 AM Subject: US kosher food market estimated at $165 billion [was:Re: Kosher Tax = NO WAY Dec. 24, 2003 US kosher food market estimated at $165 billion By YEHEZKEL LAING The kosher food market in the US totals some $165 billion and is growing at a rate of 15 percent annually according to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), a New York-based consulting firm for the kosher industry. According to IMC, nearly 10,000 companies produce 75,000 kosher food products, and approximately 3,000 new products are being introduced into the market annually. IMC also said sales have risen dramatically in the past few years. In 1988, sales were estimated at $30b., $35b. in 1994, $45b. in 1996, $130b. in 1998, $150b. in 2002, and are expected to reach $200b. by 2005. An idea of just how big the industry has become could be seen at 15th annual Kosherfest convention held a month ago at New York's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The convention, which started with only 59 booths and less than 1,000 visitors in its first year, had nearly 500 booths and more than 12,000 visitors this year. Estimates on the number of kosher consumers range from as low as a million to as high as 80 million. A report released this year by Mintel International, a consumer intelligence firm, said that 28% of Americans [some 80 million people] buy kosher food products "with the full knowledge that the product that they are buying is kosher, and with the intention of buying a kosher product." It also said that if more of the respondents were aware of the kosher symbols on many of the top brands, the percentage would be higher. The main kosher certifier in the US is the Orthodox Union. Rabbi Mordechai Kuber, who is the Kashrut Coordinator for the Orthodox Union in Israel, said the number of kosher consumers in the US is much lower. "Those who buy kosher regularly are mainly the Orthodox, which is approximately 15-20% of Jews," Kuber said. This translates into some 1 million people out of a total US population of almost 300 million. In spite of the small number of consumers he said as much as 90% of the processed food market in the US is kosher certified. If the number of consumers is so low, then why is the number of kosher products so high? Simple, said Kuber: Most observant Jews live in concentrated areas in major metropolitan centers, and "it is these centers which set the buying patterns for the rest of the country. If the major supermarket chains have 10-15 stores in areas in which Jews live, then they want kosher food for these stores... Because the chains buy in bulk they will then order kosher foods for all of their say 300 stores." Whatever the number of consumers is, all agree that Israeli companies hold only a very small piece of the market. Israeli companies, which find it hard to compete in the regular kosher market, mostly provide specialty items, such as middle eastern foods, pickled items, matzot, and wines, said Kuber. Exports of Israeli kosher foods to the US are expected to reach $75 million in 2003, according to the Kosher Today monthly trade publication. This would be a 15% increase over the $65m. sold in 2002. Part of the growth is attributed to the "Fine Food from Israel" campaign launched a year ago by Zohar Peri, Israel's economic attache to North America. (C) 1995 - 2003 The Jerusalem Post.
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