The remarkable evolution of the kosher food industry was apparent at Kosherfest, the two-day trade show connecting kosher food buyers and sellers from around the world. This year there were almost 8,000 people in attendence and over 200 exhibitors. At any point, you could hear a cacophony of Hebrew, Spanish, Yiddish, Chinese, Italian and French. At times, it felt more like a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly than a kosher food show.
Kosherfest is a place where dreams are made and broken for many new food companies. New products are "discovered" and entrepreneurs secure distribution arrangements that enable their products to appear at your local kosher supermarket soon after. For the very lucky, large supermarket chains like Shoprite, Whole Foods, Pathmark and A&P clear space on their shelves and give the product a chance to succeed beyond the Jewish market.
The kosher retail market represents upwards of $13 billion in annual sales, according to Lubicom, a marketing firm for the kosher industry. Most food companies that can be kosher are seeking supervision and certification to remain competivie in the marketplace. Each year, there are hundreds of new choices for the kosher consumer, including offerings that cater to the gourmet, all-natural and gluten-free market. I wanted to share a few favorite new products I had a chance to sample during my recent visit to Kosherfest.
I fell head over heels for the Tishbi Wine & Fruit Preserves created by Oshra Tishbi Fine Foods from the vintage of her family’s award-winning Tishbi Estate Winery in Zichron Ya'acov. Cooking the preserves in small batches ensures a quality finished product that is completely natural, fruity and sweet and celebrates the bounty of Israel's wine and fruit harvest.
I was preparing my tastebuds for a chewy, flavorless sample of Katz Gluten Free bread, when my wide smile became apparent to the eager Hassid standing on the other side of the table. "It's good, right?" he asked in heavy accented English. It was. Very. Gluten-free has gotten very good. As the mother of two children who are gluten intolerant, Mrs. Katz knows firsthand the challenges parents face every day. If you are gluten-free or know someone who is struggling with Celiac disease, try Katz's rolls, breads, muffins, cookies, cakes or rugelach.
From Montreal and inspired by Tokyo, the Wafu line of Asian-flavored dressings include: Original, Creamy (also available in light), Ginger Carrot and the new Wasabi Edamame. These dressings make a perfect dip, salad dressing or vegetable marinade.
One of my favorite discoveries was a pareve crepe from the Belgium Crepe Company that you will soon see in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. It is light, fluffy, low in fat and calories. The savory and sweet filling possibilities are endless. I can't wait to bring these home from the market.
The winner of the new product competition at this year's Kosherfest was Mountain Bread from Australia. When I brought a bag of these ultra-thin square wraps home, my kids could not get enough. We made hot wraps, cold wraps and crispy baked Mountain Bread chips. The company has 50+ recipes on their website, including creative ideas for using the wraps as wonton wrappers, lasagna noodles or a quiche crust. They are very versatile and come in whole wheat, rye, oat, corn, barley, rice, and organic varieties. They are low carb and whole grain. It is so natural, the only ingredients are flour water and salt. Shelf life of 90 days and only 70 calroies per sheet.
Kosherfest was quite the sausagefest, with at least two new sausage products entering the market. Joburg Kosher Beef Boerwors are a new line of fresh, nitrate-free sausages prepared in the traditional South African style. They are available in Traditional, Spicy and Garlic Flavors in your grocer's freezer section. Joburg also offers Biltong, a ready to eat cured beef, great for packed lunches and to throw into salads and cholent. Jack’s Gourmet sausages are gluten free and use hormone antibiotic free meat. Flavors include Sweet Italian, Hot Italian, Spicy Mexican Style Chorizo, Cured Bratwrust, and Boerewors sausages.
Passover is right around the corner and I am going to be spending a lot of time in Lily Bloom’s Kitchen. Their line of chocolate macaroons are available all year round and will have a special run that is Kosher for Passover. Forget what you thought you knew about macaroons that come out of a tin can and try this truffle-like treat!
I won't be waiting till Passover to crunch into my Matzel Toff, a cleverly-packaged, toffee chocolate-matzah treat that is simply out of this world! I may not even wait until the end of this article! They use Streit's matzohs and natural ingredients and will be available everywhere Kosher for Passover products are sold.