Manufacturers are increasingly seeking kosher certification to meet demand locally and in export markets.
Yankel Wajsbort, General Manager at kosher certification agency Kosher Australia, says the estimated value of the kosher market in Australia is $600 million annually, with several trends driving growth.
“Due to the various free trade agreements signed, Australia manufacturers have gained access to markets where kosher is seen as a requirement, such as the US and Israel,” he said.
Locally, kosher has been driven vertically, top down through the supply chain.
“Since the major supermarkets have started to focus on kosher and have included kosher as a preference, manufacturers are hopping on the bandwagon,” says Mr Wajsbort.
“As the perception that kosher represents an additional level of food safety and quality grows, more companies are seeking kosher certification to present that level of quality assurance.”
What is Kosher?
Kosher is the set of Jewish dietary laws set out in the Bible and Code of Jewish Law that govern ingredients and production processes. It covers which animal species, poultry and fish can be consumed, the mixing of meat and dairy, and the making of wine and cheese products.
Kosher rules also govern sharing equipment, and sterilisation requirements between production runs.
“Basic inclusions would be the absence of milk and meat together, as well as the exclusion of meats like pork or game, and seafoods such as mussels, shellfish, crab and prawn,” says Mr Wajsbort. “Food must then be prepared in a way outlined by kosher laws and supervised manufacturing, in order to be kosher certified.”
According to Kosher Australia, more than 1100 manufacturers are kosher certified in Australia and New Zealand.
Mr Wajsbort says kosher is attractive to a number of consumer groups.
“Orthodox Jews will only consume kosher products,” he said. “Unlike other food preferences, such as organic and non GMO, if a product is not kosher, these consumers will not purchase nor consume the foodstuff. Kosher is akin to lactose intolerance or coeliacs.”
For Jews who are traditional rather that strictly orthodox, some 49 per cent of those will keep a kosher home and preferentially buy kosher foods, he says.
Kosher certification can also appeal to non-Jewish consumers with dietary requirements such as those of veganism or vegetarianism.
“Meat, fish, eggs and dairy are kosher sensitive ingredients and usually result in stricter supervision requirement,” Mr Wajsbort said. “As such, kosher favours products that have no animal by-products.”
Kosher can even assist coeliacs.
“The festival of Passover precludes the consumption of grains such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt and oats,” Mr Wajsbort said. “A Passover product will usually be compatible with a coeliac friendly diet.”
Read more about Kosher foods and how retailers are keeping up with demand in the November issue of Retail World.