Muslims a prime market for Kosher foods

Articles
November 17, 2008

“You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s” was an iconic ad campaign for a Brooklyn-based brand of rye bread with a strong local following that reveled in the ethnicity of early-1960’s New York. This same sentiment would serve Kosher food manufacturers well today—nearly half a century later—especially to appeal to the estimated 10 million Muslims with $170 billion in purchasing power who now live in the United States. Indeed, they outnumber Jews in this nation (about 7 million), and there are similarities between their Halal dietary practices and kosher regimens: Animals are slaughtered painlessly, and pork and blood are restricted. Mintel said that Muslims already comprise 16% of the U.S. market for kosher food, which it pegged at $14.6 billion in 2005 and called one of the fastest-growing segments in the retail food business. Why the following? There are 90,000 kosher-certified products compared with 1,000 halal items distributed in the U.S., according to Kosher Today, the organizers of Kosherfest. “The second-largest consumer group for kosher foods is Muslims. In the absence of widespread halal certification, they have come to rely on kosher certification,” said Steve Sichel, director of development for Star-K Kosher Certification.

“You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s” was an iconic ad campaign for a Brooklyn-based brand of rye bread with a strong local following that reveled in the ethnicity of early-1960’s New York.

This same sentiment would serve Kosher food manufacturers well today—nearly  half a century later—especially to appeal to the estimated 10 million Muslims with $170 billion in purchasing power who now live in the United States.  Indeed, they outnumber Jews in this nation (about 7 million), and there are similarities between their Halal dietary practices and kosher regimens: Animals are slaughtered painlessly, and pork and blood are restricted.

Mintel said that Muslims already comprise 16% of the U.S. market for kosher food, which it pegged at $14.6 billion in 2005 and called one of the fastest-growing segments in the retail food business. Why the following? There are 90,000 kosher-certified products compared with 1,000 halal items distributed in the U.S., according to Kosher Today, the organizers of Kosherfest.  “The second-largest consumer group for kosher foods is Muslims. In the absence of widespread halal certification, they have come to rely on kosher certification,” said Steve Sichel, director of development for Star-K Kosher Certification.

The kosher marketplace has been growing 10% to 15% annually over the past 15 to 20 years, Rabbi Eliyahu Safran, senior rabbinic coordinator at the Orthodox Union, told the Jerusalem Post. “The kosher marketplace has grown to meet the needs of many others. In food, there is no ‘Good Housekeeping’ symbol, and in the minds of many, the kosher symbol represents another pair of eyes looking at the food,” he added.

Non-Jews believe the OU symbol of the Orthodox Union represents the highest level of product safety and cleanliness, according to a survey of kosher food purchasers, including Muslims, conducted by WAC Survey and Strategic Consulting last year.

Brands and retailers that pursue Muslims with their kosher-certified foods will find a receptive market, one that may well appreciate being Americanized as the target of advertising. According to Kosher Today, shoppers who buy kosher foods spend $100 more per week on groceries than their non-kosher peers.