By Kosher Today
An estimated 11.5 million Americans buy $12.5 billion of kosher foods, a new survey by LUBICOM Marketing Consulting shows.
Some studies, like the 2005 report by the Mintel Research Organization, put the figure at $14.5 billion. The numbers reflect sales to year-round Jewish kosher consumers, occasional Jewish customers (i.e. holiday shoppers), members of other religious faiths, and Americans who prefer kosher because of health, safety, or taste preferences.
In the 2005 study, Mintel indicated that 21% of Americans either regularly or occasionally purchase kosher products because they are kosher (i.e. kosher hot dog). Of those, 55% listed health and safety as the reason for their purchase, 38% are vegetarians, 16% eat halal, and 35% preferred kosher because of taste or flavor.
The kosher symbol appears on $285 billion of consumer goods sold in U.S. supermarkets, nearly 60% of all such goods produced for sale in U.S. groceries. Even more striking is the astounding figure of ingredients in products that are certified as kosher.
An estimated 70% of all ingredients sold to U.S. food companies are kosher certified. In the past eight years, kosher sales have increased by 10% – 15% each year. Only organic foods exceeded that number in some years. The number of kosher certified products sold in the U.S. has topped 110,000. Some 2100 products were certified kosher in 2007. In the U.S., 10,650 companies and plants produce kosher products.
Kosher cut back only slightly
Retailers of kosher foods say that customers are definitely being more cautious these days, particularly on more expensive items, but so far that caution has had little impact on the industry overall. The organic food industry, which has been growing at a remarkable pace of 20% a year, is beginning to feel the effects of the economic decline, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
Quoting the Nielsen Company, the Times noted that its growth had slowed. On the other hand, purveyors and distributors say kosher continues on a 10% – 12% annual growth rate in 2008.
The U.S. Department of Commerce recently reported that consumers have cut back on food purchases. The government data shows that spending by American households, which previously had been raising their spending to keep putting the same food on the table, buckled in the third quarter. As a result, nominal spending on food showed an actual decline.
“Food is a big component of expenditures, and one of the ways people cut back on spending is to substitute away from more expensive food items,” said James Hamilton, an economics professor at the University of California at San Diego.
“I think it’s accurate to read this first as a broad effort by consumers to cut back where they can,” he said. While most experts feel that the kosher food industry will not be immune from consumer cutbacks, particularly in higher priced goods, they feel that the growth of kosher foods will continue.