Kosher Foods Growth Skewing Younger, Less Devout: Report

NEW YORK -- Younger and lower-income consumers are behind the growth in sales of kosher foods, according to a report on the American kosher market newly released by global research firm Mintel Organization International. The report, based on a survey, indicated that the segment's growth is also tied to the adoption of kosher as an alternative by occasional buyers who are not strictly keeping kosher, as well as non-Jews.

In the survey, 21 percent of all respondents said that they buy kosher; but 58 percent of those kosher consumers said that they "keep kosher occasionally," while 55 percent responded that they buy kosher because they believe that the products are safer or healthier.

Of those respondents who said they "buy kosher occasionally," 70 percent were between the ages of 18 and 34. Further, 67 percent of those occasional kosher shoppers had annual salaries of less than $30,000 a year. Twenty-two percent of younger consumers said that they keep kosher all the time, followed by 18 percent of the 55-64 age group, 11 percent of the 35-54 age group, and 9 percent of the over-65 age group.

The younger shoppers also outpaced all other age groups in thinking that kosher foods were healthier and safer. Younger shoppers also said they were choosing kosher due to a desire for vegetarian and dairy-free items, and the need for a product list consistent with halal, the system of slaughtering animals in accordance with Muslim law. This was also true of those who earned less than $30,000.

"The growth of kosher from among the younger set is more a function of age than income, but both of these issues are interconnected," said Marcia Mogelonsky, head of kosher consumer research at Mintel, in a statement. "And, that's good news for marketers of kosher food -- the strong numbers indicate that kosher will not fade away with older traditional consumers, but will continue to grow with the new and emerging younger group."

In its study, Mintel concentrated on five products segments that can be tracked through several channels: chocolate/confectionary, salty snacks, nonchocolate confectionery, cookies, and crackers. Sales of kosher food in these segments were at $14.6 billion in 2004, with 14.6 percent more products certified kosher than in 2002.

Also according to the study, consumers buy kosher foods in kosher and other sections of supermarkets, specialty kosher food stores or delis, all-kosher supermarket chains, and over the Internet, among other channels.

"More and more companies are going kosher because kosher food is not just consumed by Jews," said Mogelonsky. "Big companies, small companies, and specialty food companies are making efforts to go kosher, as it seems to have equal 'bragging rights' with organic and natural."

Mogelonsky will keynote the 17th annual Kosherfest, to be held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York in November. "The next trends you'll see going forward at Kosherfest 2005 include foods that have a low glycemic index (low-carb is out), and more foods that have not yet been certified kosher will become kosher," she said. "We'll see more kosher products related to healthier eating like whole grain products, low salt and low sugar products, i.e., kosher whole wheat bread with low salt...those are what people will be looking for."
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