Yesterday’s Dining section of the New York Times featured a story called “For Some, ‘Kosher’ Equals Pure.” I was certainly intrigued with this since as the owner of a kosher gift company, this is my domain–it almost felt like the story had been written with me in mind!
The first interesting aspect of the story was the dominant picture of 2 Muslim women shopping at Pomegranate, the fabulous kosher market in Brooklyn (I use the store as my own kosher food show). This was thrilling to me since we also have been embracing the Muslim market. Why not? Kosher and halal are not far apart.
The gist of the story is that since the 1990s when the Oreo became kosher and Con Agra bought Hebrew National hot dogs, the kosher food market has been increasing exponentially. According to the article, 40% of food sold in grocery stores has a kosher imprint. Further, in this $17 billion market, only 15% of buyers are buying for religious reasons. So, who is buying all of this kosher food? Everyone–Jews and non Jews. They aren’t just buying kosher chicken, they are buying all sorts of foods and beverages. And why are they buying kosher? Quality.
We have definitely seen this in action here at Challah Connection and Kosher Gift Box: about 50% of our sales are from non-Jewish people. While many of our non-Jewish customers are buying for their Jewish friends and colleagues, many of them love our “Jewish” food and like that it’s kosher. I have heard from our customers what the Times stated: many feel that kosher is of a higher quality.
Personally, I am not alway so sure about this, particularly regarding pareve (non dairy) items. I understand the need that some have for pareve, but you can’t convince me that the hydrogenated oil or soy bean oil that is used instead of butter can be good for you. I’m with Julia Child: butter is better.
Just today, I received an email from a happy customer who said “I’m not Jewish but I LOVE all this food and traditions!!! I’m trying to learn about other traditional foods and you guys do a great job with the recipes and all.”
If she’s happy, I’m happy.