There was Jack’s chipotle sausages, Mirin sauce, vanilla flavored parve vodka, fig cabernet preserves, parmigiano reggiano, vegetarian hot dogs in a blanket, pad thai noodles in a microwaveable box, and biltongs from Johannesburg, among the hundreds of new products debuting at the 22nd annual trade show known as Kosherfest. More than three hundreds booths and a record number of attendees filled the Meadowlands Expo Center for the two-day kosher food, wine & spirits show Oct 26-27.
According to the show’s producer, more than 6700 attended the show with a 17% increase in key buyers. In addition to a sold out exhibition floor from companies worldwide– some first timers — Kosherfest put on a two-day program of well-attended special events and industry seminars including the History of Jewish Food by noted author Gil Marks, cooking demonstrations by Susie Fishbein, and new kosher cook book introductions from Joan Nathan, Sue Fishkoff and Paula Shoyer. A special panel discussion addressed Kosher Canada!, featuring purveyors and kosher supervisors addressing all that is new from that diverse country.
“Kosherfest 2010 was by all accounts the most dynamic kosher food show ever with more new products, more nations represented, and more buyers looking for kosher products. It was a buying’ show in that millions of dollars of orders were written at the show as the industry continues to expand at an impressive pace. The buzz and the increased activity at the show was the best indication that kosher continues to go mainstream,” said Menachem Lubinsky, President of LUBICOM Marketing Consulting which co-produces the annual show with Diversified Business Communications.
Industry statistics show that the current kosher customer is 40 and under, and looking for gourmet, upscale and healthy kosher products. According to several sources*, the number of kosher consumers in the U.S. tops 12,100,000, and 21% of Americans who regularly or occasionally purchase kosher products do so because the items are kosher-certified. There are approximately 10,650 kosher producing companies and plants, there are 125,000 kosher certified products, 40% of kosher sales occur on the eve of Passover, 19,000 is the average number of kosher products in US supermarkets, and the dollar value of kosher products produced in the USA is $305,000,000,000.
While many of the exhibitors still featured traditional kosher foods such as pickles, pastrami and challah, it was the variety and newness of products that attracted industry professionals from all over the globe, and caught the attention of buyers from SuperValue, Wegman’s, Safeway, Wakefern/Shoprite, Winn-Dixie, HEB, Stew Leonards, COSTCO, Wal-mart, A&P, Kehe Foods, Kroger, Acme and Key Foods, among many other top food purveyors.
Kosherfest’s 3rd Annual Culinary Competition, this year for the best Kosher Cold Appetizer, gave top honors to Chef Avram Wiseman of the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts in Brooklyn, NY. His winning entry was a striped bass prepared with a lentil salad, mango and pineapple salsa and tarragon vinaigrette. The panel of judges included: author and food historian Gil Marks, educator and writer Ted Merwin, and website editors Lois Held and Robert Scher of Koshereye.com.
According to Bill Springer, Kosherfest co-producer, “This year’s Kosherfest was sold out with a waiting list. It is a good sign that not only is the economy improving, but that the kosher symbol is becoming more important to consumers than ever before, and that buyers are eager to see and taste new kosher products and learn about trends in the marketplace.”
Kosherfest also showcased products from more than 30 countries, including Israel, England, Argentina, Poland, Spain and Australia. This year a special section was devoted to all things kosher from Canada, with events and seminars celebrating and highlighting their products and contribution to the kosher marketplace.
Two weeks prior to the trade show at the Meadowlands, Kosherfest 2010 sponsored the Best New Kosher Products Competition at The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. More than 17 categories of food products were judged, with the top prize going to Mountain Bread Wraps, a product of Australia, distributed by No Worries Natural Foods in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and throughout the world. For a complete list of winners go to: www.kosherfest.com.
Next year Kosherfest will be held November 8-9, 2011 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center with new events, programs and seminars. Kosherfest is co-produced by Diversified Business Communications of Portland, ME (www.divbusiness.com) and LUBICOM (www.lubicom.com).