Seeking a bigger bite of the kosher market, Safeway recently decided to beef up its kosher offerings in its 125 supermarkets located throughout Maryland, Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia and Delaware.
Local all-kosher stores aren’t conveniently located for everyone, said Rabbi Levi Raskin, co-director Chabad of Aspen Hill, who, along with other Chabad rabbis, met with a representative from Safeway several months ago to try to bring more kosher products into the store.
Following the meeting, Raskin said Safeway agreed to expand its kosher selections as an experiment at about a dozen of its stores in the Maryland area.
“Aspen Hill was one of those chosen,” Raskin said of the Safeway on Norbeck Road.
The Aspen Hill store also was open to holding The Great Kosher Chocolate Factory.
More than 50 people made and ate chocolate foods during a program last Sunday led by Raskin, who is the also the director of JCrafts, a mobile project of Chabad-Lubavitch of Maryland. Through JCrafts, Raskin has been conducting kosher chocolate demonstrations throughout the summer, but the recent event was the first one held inside a supermarket, he said.
Safeway officials appear just as excited as many of the people who attended the chocolate factory workshop, and spokesman Muckle said his grocery chain aims to be a mecca for kosher products.
It currently offers a minor selection of kosher products in its area stores, but “we really have not done as effective a job as we may have in meeting the needs” of Jewish shoppers, Muckle said. “Honestly, the Jewish community is a significant part of [the Mid-Atlantic] region.”
Kosher products not offered at Safeway before, which Muckle said he couldn’t list because he didn’t want other grocery stores to know in advance, will soon occupy its shelves. “You are going to continue to see more and more of it this year,” and also during 2016, he said of the additional kosher offerings.
“We are looking into adding a mashgiach (kosher supervisor) in each store” in 2016, he said. “We want to sever as many people as possible, and this is an opportunity for us to expand,” he said.
To Barocas, it’s all good. With the increasing number of stores carrying kosher products, “I certainly know that people who are kosher are having an easier time of it.”