It could have been any gourmet food fair, with many delicious things to eat.
The main hall of the Meadowlands Exhibition Center in New Jersey was full of people with more than 6,000 attendees watching 360 food and beverage exhibitors from around the world.
The hundreds of products on display included everything from pizza bases made from cauliflower, to sauces, ice cream sandwiches, cider, meat patties (a Mexican cake), Italian sorbets, gins, sausages, tequila and even a variety of infused cookies with cannabis Petroleum.
But this was not an ordinary exhibition of food and drink. While there was a wide range on display, everything had one important thing in common: they were all certified as kosher. Everything present conformed to kashrut, Jewish dietary laws.
The event at the end of last year was the 31st annual “Kosherfest”, a two-day meeting that is touted as “the largest and most attended kosher-certified products fair in the world.”
While Jewish-owned companies attended with pride, many of the companies that were present are not owned or run by Jews, but they had still chosen to be Kosher. These included businesses from Pakistan, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Italy.
With the number of people attending up to 800 from the previous year, and 300 new products on display, Menachem Lubinsky, executive director of the Lubicom event organizer, said the demand for kosher food was growing strongly among non-Jewish buyers.
“Kosher food attracts a more health conscious consumer,” he says. “It’s like a new generation of kosher. It is different from those who have been there for many years, the basic kosher basics.”
The center of the world’s kosher food sector is the United States. While only 2% of Americans are Jewish, about 7.5 million people, a study by the Quartz business news website found that 41% of all food packaged in the US. UU. They have kosher certification.
Explanations for this include the perception that kosher foods are cleaner or healthier, or the desire of people to ensure that a product does not include potential allergens such as shellfish. It also offers certainty for vegans, as in the example of Oreo cookies, which before butter change in the kosher in the late 1990s contained lard (pork fat).
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Led by the growing demand in the USA. In the US, the global kosher food market is forecast to increase to almost $ 60 billion (£ 40 billion) of annual sales in 2025, compared to $ 24 billion in 2017. Given these vast figures, it is not surprising that a growth A number of food companies worldwide seek kosher accreditation.
“I think companies come from the base that you can’t produce an ingredient anywhere in the world and I hope to sell it in the United States without being a kosher,” says Lubinsky. “There is a significant market and companies want a part of it.”
But what exactly is kosher food? While most people understand that pork and shellfish are not kosher, kosher animals such as cows and lambs should be ritually slaughtered with a sharp knife. Meanwhile, food products cannot contain meat and dairy. And not all parts of the cow can be consumed.
All kosher decisions must be made by trained rabbis of a kosher certification agency. Richard Rabkin, managing director of COR, the largest organization of its kind in Canada, explains that the process is taken very seriously.
“Some people have the wrong impression that we go there and bless the food, and that’s all it takes,” he says. “No, it’s more complicated than that.
“We have an initial conversation with a company and we have an idea of what they are doing in the food, and we take a look at all the ingredients and find out if it is kosher or not. Once we have a picture of that, then we inspect the facility itself … We are protecting against cross contamination.
“Once we make sure of all that, there is an inspection to make sure everything is followed according to the kosher standards, and then certification is granted. [But], the inspection is not only from time to time, it is a continuous basis. “
Back in Kosherfest in New Jersey, Dakshin Thilina represented the Sri Lankan Nexpo Conversion food group, and its kosher coconut milk powder and coconut oil. He explains that, unlike some of his company’s rivals, he doesn’t use any sodium caseinate, a food stabilizer derived from milk.
“Without that component, our products do not contain lactose,” he says. “And since they are not dairy, Kosher Jews can use them at any time, along with the meat.”
Another Asian firm that attended was Dewan Sugar Mills of Pakistan, which manufactures ethanol for mouthwashes. “We wanted to tell people that there is nothing but kosher that comes into contact with what we do,” says general manager Adnan Pirzada.
And there, from Dubai, was the South African expatriate Elli Kriel, who runs a kosher catering company: Elli’s Kosher Kitchen. “I was producing kosher food for our family, and people started communicating with me,” she says. “Travelers in particular, who moved around the city, needed kosher food.
“I used to invite them to eat at our house, but I realized, when more and more people started approaching, that I was in a good position to offer kosher food.”
Lubinsky says he is pleased to see that Kosher food is separated from Jewish classics and that “it goes luxury.” “It’s no longer your chopped liver and stuffed cabbage,” he adds.