Food quality, not religion, tops kosher consumers’ criteria: study

People of all faiths are fueling a robust market for kosher foods, according to a new report by market research firm Mintel. A consumer survey of 2,500 adults found that the No. 1 reason people buy kosher food is for quality (62 percent).

“General healthfulness” (51 percent) was the second most common reason, and food safety (34 percent) ranked third. Meanwhile, only 14 percent said they purchase kosher food to follow kosher religious rules. Another 10 percent buy kosher in accordance with religious rules with eating restrictions similar to kosher.

“Kosher food has gained the reputation of being more carefully produced and thoroughly inspected than non-kosher food,” Mintel senior analyst Marcia Mogelonsky said in a statement. “With recent food safety scares causing people to rethink even the most familiar food products, we can expect more adults to turn to kosher food as a way to ensure food safety and quality.”

With sales of kosher foods totaling $12.5 billion in 2008, a 64 percent increase since 2003, the market for kosher food is growing in the United States. Thirteen percent of Mintel’s respondents said they intentionally purchase kosher foods.

Mintel data indicate one in four new food and drink products launched in the United States during 2008 were kosher, and kosher has been the top individual claim on new U.S. food and drink products since 2005.