Agriculture Press Release

May 26, 1999

Kosher Food Products Grow in Popularity; New Logo Will Help Consumers Identify Kosher Products from Florida

TALLAHASSEE Kosher foods have always been in demand by those who have chosen to observe religious dietary laws, and are rapidly gaining popularity with other consumers. The strict processing and preparation standards of kosher foods are attracting huge numbers of consumers such as vegetarians and other health-conscious individuals who may perceive the products as purer or safer.

But, quickly identifying kosher products in the marketplace can be difficult, especially among consumers who lack experience in locating the tiny traditional certification marks that appear on food packaging.

A new program by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will help all consumers to quickly and easily identify kosher foods that are produced in Florida. The program will make finding these products easier through the use of a colorful "Kosher from Florida" logo on food packaging and promotional materials displayed in retail stores.

"There are already more than 450 kosher companies or producers in Florida," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford said. "The market for kosher foods is growing rapidly as more consumers choose kosher foods for a variety of personal reasons. The Kosher from Florida logo identification program not only makes it easier for consumers to find the products they want, it also benefits Floridas food producers."

Kosher derives its name from the Hebrew "kasher," which means "proper" or "pure." Kosher refers to a set of dietary laws originating in the Old Testament that govern both the selection and preparation of food. Kosher goods, whether sold by large companies or small operations, must carry the certification of a rabbinical organization that has overseen the production and can attest to its purity. In order to be certified as kosher, the food must be cleared by a mashgiach, a rabbi who inspects all the ingredients, equipment and various processing stages to determine that they follow the strict and complex dietary laws established more than 3,000 years ago.

If the products meet these standards, they are certified as kosher by one of the nationally recognized "kashruth" certifying organizations in the United States, and are identified by very small certification marks printed on the packaging. Some of the more common kashruth certification marks include a "U" inside a circle, and a "K" inside a circle.

It is estimated that about 30 percent of kosher foods are purchased by members of the Jewish faith. Another 20 percent are purchased by members of other faiths, such as Muslims, Seventh-Day Adventists and others who observe dietary laws similar to Orthodox Jews. Fully one-half of all kosher sales are made by other consumers for reasons that have nothing to do with religion. This group includes consumers who have special dietary needs, such as vegetarians or those in at-risk health groups, or consumers who perceive kosher products as purer, healthier, cleaner or safer.

Food marketing associations estimate that kosher foods account for $50 billion worth of food sales each year. More than 8,100 companies nationwide manufacture more than 36,000 kosher products. While overall food sales are growing by about 1 to 2 percent annually, kosher food sales have increased more than 10 percent annually in recent years.

As many Americans become more health conscious, they may perceive kosher food products as meeting higher quality standards for safe handling and cleanliness. In the wake of illnesses traced to tainted imported food products in recent years, many U.S. consumers are looking for additional ways to safeguard their health, and the quality controls inherent to kosher

processing afford many of them with the peace of mind they seek. Consumers are often impressed with the kosher rules and rabbinical supervision, and assume that the products are purer and safer.

The "Kosher from Florida" program is designed to help consumers easily identify Florida-produced kosher foods on store shelves. Products that are produced in Florida and have been certified as kosher by a nationally recognized kashruth certifying organization are eligible to bear the "Kosher from Florida" logo a colorful icon that features the sun over land and water. In addition to product packaging, the "Kosher from Florida" logo will appear on shelf tags, display cards, store windows signs, and other promotional materials to assist consumers in finding the products they desire.

The "Kosher from Florida" program is an extension of the Florida Agricultural Promotional Campaign (FAPC) which uses the "Fresh from Florida" logo to help consumers identify Florida agricultural products at the retail level. Currently, more than 2,700 Florida agricultural producers, distributors and retailers are members of the FAPC.

The "Kosher from Florida" program initially will target the more than 450 Florida companies that already produce or sell kosher foods.

The "Kosher from Florida" program has been endorsed by the rabbinical Association of Greater Miami.


For more information:

Nelson Pugh
(850) 488-4031

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