More than 6,000 Kosher Food Industry professionals attended the 23rd Annual Kosherfest Kosher food trade show at the Meadowlands Expo Center, Secaucus New Jersey on November 8-9.
Kosherfest is the largest gathering of manufacturers, distributors and buyers of kosher food in the world. In addition to the over 350 exhibitors of the various kosher foods, wines, spirits and kashrut-related products, the show included a two-day program of special events and industry seminars.
Exhibitors came from all over the globe including such places as Russia, Scotland, Argentina, Canada, Israel, Brazil and almost every state in the United States. The seminars and events included a panel of award winning cookbook writers such as Susie Fishbein, Jamie Geller, Levana Kirschenbaum and Jeffrey Nathan speaking about “Kosher 2012: The Demands of an Ever Changing Palate.”
The main event of the Expo featured an “Iron Chef-style” competition for kosher restaurant chefs where the mystery ingredient was duck breast. The winner of the competition was Seth Warshaw of ETC Steakhouse in Teaneck, New Jersey. The competition was produced in partnership with the Center for Culinary Kosher Arts, Brooklyn New York. The runner ups included Chefs Moshe Wendel of Pardes Restaurant Brooklyn and Craig Solomon of Ariel’s Restaurant of Englewood.
The Kosher world is not what it used to be in our parents’ and grandparents’ times. Not only Jews consume kosher products. The statistics are surprising. The number of kosher consumers in the United States tops 12,100,000 and 21% of Americans who regularly purchase kosher products do it specifically because of the kosher certification. There are approximately 10,650 kosher-producing companies and plants worldwide with 126,000 kosher certified products. The average number of kosher products in U.S. supermarkets is 19,000 and the dollar value of kosher products produced nationally is $305 billion.
Buyers at the Kosherfest included such well-known retailers as Costco, Wal-Mart, Shoprite and Wakefern, Safeway, Winn-Dixie, Stew Leonards, A&P, Key Foods, Acme, Kroger and many more. Buyers today not only look at simple kosher products but also a wide variety of gourmet, upscale kosher foods.
The exhibitors included many prominent kosher food manufacturers, and as well as a few up-and-comers.
The Manischewitz Company is a well known and “old time” name that has been totally rejuvenated. Created in 1888 as the B. Manischewitz Company by Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz, it became the world’s largest producer of Matzo for Passover. It also was until 1986 the producer of the famed Manischewitz Wine. That division was sold to Canandaigua Wine Company in 1986 and the Manischewitz Family sold the company to a group led by investment giant Kohlberg and Company in 1990 for 42.5 Million Dollars. The Company changed its corporate name in 2004 to RAB Food Group and has now returned to its original brand name, The Manischewitz Company.
In an interview with Mr. Alain Bankier, Co-President and CEO of The Manischewitz Company, the company has morphed into a huge food conglomerate with a wide variety of different brands and products. Today, the Manischewitz Company includes such famous kosher food brands as Rokeach, Season, Mothers, Mrs. Adler’s, Cohen’s, Barney’s, Ratners, Horowitz Margareten, Guiltless Gourmet, Mishpacha and Cuisine Innovations. The famed original saying for Manischewitz products, “Man Oh Manischewitz” has been re-incorporated into the corporate branding to bring back some of the “memories’ of parents and grandparents usage of the products.
Mr. Bankier explained that the product line has been expanded to include something for everyone. Manischewitz is far from being just matzo and Tam Tam crackers. The products have been broken down into three main categories: Health and Wellness, Mediterranean and Comfort. Products now include many items with Health and Wellness seals, with no MSG, low fat and many with low sodium. This also includes a huge Kosher for Passover line including Organic Matzos and Shmura Matzos from Israel. The products line has also been upgraded with the inclusion of Mediterranean offerings such as Moroccan Fish Balls (imagine gefilte fish, but with a kick), from a Sephardic Family Recipe of Mr .Paul Bensabat, Co-CEO of Manischewitz. Bankier further explains that “today the kosher consumer need not be penalized” for their lifestyle, and kosher foods can include almost anything. The acquisition of Seasons Foods adds a huge line of fish products such as Sardines and the Cohen and Barney’s lines add the hors d’oeuvres including their famed pastry-wrapped hot dogs and canapés.
Soon to be introduced to the Manischewitz line will be the new automated Kosher Food Vending machines. The prototype vending machines were proudly displayed at Kosherfest and the new division should be in full swing in late 2011 and early 2012.
The dream of the Kosher Consumer has always been the ability to be able “eat kosher foods similar to what non-Jews eat as not kosher.” One exhibit that has was a focal point of many at this year’s Kosherfest was Jack’s Gourmet Sausages. If one has not tasted a Jack’s Gourmet Sausage one has not been exposed to the “Real World of Sausage eating.” The lines in front of the Jack’s tasting counters attested to the amazing quality and appeal of the one year old line. Introduced at Kosherfest last year as the brainchild of Jack Silberstein, Jack’s has gone wild with a wide array of Glatt Kosher Sausages such as Turkey and Apple Cranberry, Sweet and Hot Italian, Buffalo Style, Jamaican Style Jerk Chicken, Spicy Mexican Style and many more.
Kosherfest 2011 was not only a platform for food products but also for various other Jewish oriented products. A very innovative display from the Ner Mitzvah Candle Company of hand-made Havdalah Candles drew a huge crowd. Ner Mitzvah produces a diverse and unique line of candle Products for Shabbat, Chanukah and Memorial uses. The Bees Wax Havdalah Candles are hand made in their Upstate New York factory by Sabbath observant candle makers.
Kosherfest 2011 was a huge success and millions of dollars of orders were taken at the expo.
The next Kosherfest will take place at the Meadowlands on November 13-14, 2012.
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