Kosher cooking is easier than ever. Fortunate for kosher consumers, kosher food is growing more popular and setting records, especially among higher-end cooks and chefs and even non-Jews. Why? The top reasons cited for buying kosher? Quality, followed by general healthfulness, according to Mintel, a research group that last year produced a report on the kosher food explosion. Taste is the other reason for the growth in kosher foods. Kosher chickens have continually won "best chicken" taste tests, in such prestigious publications as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, New York Magazine, Gourmet Magazine, Bon Appétit and Cooks Illustrated.
People who buy products specifically because they are labeled kosher, could be spending as much as $17 billion by 2013, according to the NY Times. Food companies and manufacturers know that although a niche market, they are loyal, consistent, and spend often. The kosher market is a demographic that cooks for large families regularly, entertains guests weekly, and spends more on food than other cultures. The traditional religious family cooks meals every weekend that include a fish course, a meat and other type of poultry course, numerous side dishes, desserts, and homemade breads, called challahs. It’s like cooking for Thanksgiving every week. Additionally, the Jewish calendar includes numerous holidays that all involve food traditions as part of the festivities. This strong demographic and kosher consumer market has helped in the success of many kosher cookbooks and new websites like Gourmet Kosher Cooking that feature great new kosher recipes and products each week. It is no surprise that the kosher industry is a billion dollar industry and more and more companies are providing products for this group.
Recently, major retailers including Wal-Mart, Costco and Trader Joe’s have included large selections of kosher products and provide written information to the consumer on kosher certifications and their contact information. At Fresh Direct, the New York City grocery delivery company, orders for kosher chicken were up 30 percent in 2009.
For some shoppers, kosher means purity of ingredients. Vegetarians know a parve label means absolutely no meat or dairy products.
Also, some non-kosher consumers know that humane treatment is built into Jewish dietary law. Animals must be handled with care, fed a specific diet and slaughtered with a swift cut to the carotid artery. (In addition, rabbis inspect carcasses for defects like broken bones or infection. Washings in salt and cold water help remove all traces of blood.) Kosher does not guarantee humane though and like anything else, it depends on the management and the quality of the operation and the training of the personnel, to ensure that animals and products are treated appropriately.
With kosher food and cooking tips easier to access, the industry is sure to continue to grow at a dramatic pace.