Goin’ Kosher

Kosherfest is the highlight of the year for everyone in the kosher-food industry. Calendars are marked a year ahead for the mega-marketplace, where buyers can find the newest products introduced, packaged imaginatively with the premise "taste before you order."

And so it was on Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 that a record number of more than 10,000 food-buyers converged on the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York to attend the 19th Kosherfest. More than 500 exhibitors displayed thousands of kosher items encompassing food and wines, beverages and equipment from more than 20 nations.

Kosherfest, the brainchild of Menachem Lubinsky who started it all almost 20 years ago, is the largest and the only kosher-food-and-beverage trade show in the world. This year, the event featured celebrations to commemorate the 60th year of the State of Israel and 50 years of Israeli food exports. Also, for the first time, a display called Kosher/International Restaurant Row showcased kosher-certified restaurants in the New York area.

Kosherfest is now under the umbrella name Cultural Food Expo New York, where thousands of new and traditional kosher-certified products were introduced. Many of the Asian and Latin ethnic foods had a kosher certification. Additionally, taking into account consumer demands for organic foods, there was a new organic pavilion featuring certified organic products.

According to Menachem Lubinsky, CEO of Lubicom Marketing Consulting, who serves as co-producer of the event with Diversified Business Communications: "Twenty years ago, the number of kosher products was just a small fraction of the 100,000 kosher-certified products available to kosher consumers today. With an annual growth of 15 percent, kosher has made impressive strides … growing up in a kosher home years ago, we could only dream of kosher sushi or award-winning kosher wines."

Across the board, kosher foods have become more and more popular as the general public has started to eat healthier and perceive kosher food as healthier. More than 10 million Americans, Jews and non-Jews, are buying kosher foods. Besides supermarkets, many kosher-certified products are now available in discount places like Costco and Sam's Club, as well as food-service venues.

The newest and most important trend in kosher food is convenience. In most households, time is limited; adults work more than ever, and the preponderance of ready-to-eat and online sales of cooked and noncooked kosher food products shipped to your door is expanding.

According to exhibitors and buyers, besides convenience, the hottest products in 2008 will be pareve, all-natural, vegan and organic with kosher Asian and Hispanic foods, adding gourmet diversity to the traditional fare.

Some new products to look for in coming months:

· Mikee's Shiitake Teriyaki Sauce — declared "Best in Show New Product Winner" — from Exotic Sauce Packaging, Inc.;

· Tofu steaks, Cajun and garlic-pepper from House Foods;

· White Chilean Wine Vinegar from Traverso;

· All-natural pizza dough in resealable pouches from Real New York;

· Beef jerky, salmon jerky and turkey jerky from R.J. Gourmet;

· Vegan fettuccine and spaghetti noodles from House Foods;

· Individually wrapped, all-natural brownies: peanut swirl, raspberry swirl and espresso choco-chip varieties from the Exceptional Brownie;

· Pomegranate Dessert Wine from Rimon Winery;

· Golan Moscato dessert wine from Golan Heights Winery;

· Marzipan "sushi" from Shabtai Gourmet (which won "Best New Dessert");

· Srawberry-Vanilla Fruit Fusion from Oxygen Imports — a preserve that won the "Best Foods From Israel" award;

· Honeydew-Melon Juice, natural and organic from Elite Foods — "Best New Kosher Organic" award; and

· Apple-Cinnamon Bars, natural, organic from Wings of Nature.

And just for fun: a matzah-patterned toilet lid cover embroidered with "Let My People Go" from Davida Aprons; and kosher, wheat-free dog biscuits with flavors of cranberry cheddar and Tuscan tomato from Wagatha.



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