US drives global kosher ingredient need

US drives global kosher ingredient need

By Jess Halliday


growing kosher market is prompting manufacturers in countries without
much local demand to gain certification so they can export to the
high-potential US, and some are exporting continuous kosher production
to keep down costs.

Eliyahu Safran, VP of communications and marekting at Kosher
certification service The Orthodox Union (OU) told
that there is an increase in ingredients firms seeking certification.
As more and more kosher consumer products become available, suppliers
do not want to be excluded from the market.

While the US is the
largest Kosher market the companies that cater to it are geographically
wide-spread. The fact that the OU has plants on its books in
and China, for instance, and over 300 (mainly ingredients) plants in
China does not mean that there is a big consumer demand for Kosher
products in these local markets.

Rather, the companies seeking certification are wishing to export to the US.

OU, which has its headquarters in the US, certifies 6,000 plants in 83
countries (both ingredients and finished product manufacturers).

drawn from Mintel’s Global New Products Database bears witness to the
vast difference in size between the US and European kosher markets. The
database contains around 12,000 entries of new products in the US in
the last five years, compared to less than 400 in Europe.

ingredients firm Solabia recently introduced continuous kosher
production of its peptones and hydrolysates at its plant in Beauvais,
France, as as to be able to meet demand more quickly and help reduce

Peptones – enzymatic digests of plant of animal protein –
are used by the agri-food industries for the production of starter
cultures or probiotics for dairy or food.

Solabia has now
transfered all production of meat peptones to its facility in Brazil,
so it is not longer making any products that could contaminate the line
in France.

This is not the first time they have made kosher
products, but Miller said that the company made be “somewhat unique, in
that most people do it on a campaign basis”.

Since in most
factories a range of different products are produced, it is not
possible to dedicate the whole facility to kosher strategy. Rather,
they decide to make kosher products only at certain times of the year.

drawback of this is that cleaning the production lines under rabbinical
supervision can call for between 24 and 48 hours down-time. This means
that the cost is spread over limited products – and it is not only the
cost of koshering (said to range from $2,500 and $5,000) that must be
considered, but non-kosher products that are not being made and sold at
that time.

“Proportionately it is a lot more expensive for
customers,” said Miller. He added that they cannot respond to market
demand fast, as they production is limited to the allocated time frame.

agreed that because of the precepts of traceability, mixing
specifications and no contamination between milk and meat products,
there is often a perception of higher quality. In times of general
concern about the safety of food supply, such a perception can make
kosher foods attractive to non-Jewish consumers too.

In a survey
conducted in the US by Mintel in 2005, 55 per cent of respondents who
buy kosher foods said they thought they held a higher market of health
and safety than non-kosher items. Mintel identified demand for dairy-
and meat-free products as driving forces behind market growth – despite
the shrinking US Jewish population.