Three in five people who buy kosher food do so because they perceive it to be better quality, in contrast with only 14 percent of consumers who said they bought it because they adhere to kosher religious rules, the study found.
Senior new product analyst at Mintel Krista Faron told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “The presence of the kosher mark itself suggests that there is [an inspection] process in place. It is all about consumer perception that there is some sort of formalized methodology...My sense is that consumers probably couldn’t tell us what kosher meant, but the kosher mark is reassuring.”
After food quality, ‘healthfulness’ and ‘safety’ round off the top three drivers for kosher food purchases. Faron agreed that kosher food has a reputation for being subjected to careful production and inspection processes and that this has an effect on kosher sales and new product launches.
According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, 28 percent of all US food and beverage launches during 2008 carried a kosher symbol, and kosher has been the top individual claim for new American food products since 2005.
“Particularly in the recent past, Americans have been overwhelmed by food safety scares. People are very concerned and having some certification on the foods they buy can appease some of those fears,” she said.
All about perception
However, when asked if adhering to kosher rules could have prevented some of the recent foodborne illness outbreaks, Faron said: “I’m not sure that it would have made a difference. The benefit to kosher is the perception rather than anything else.”
The market for kosher food and beverage has been growing strongly over the past five years.
Mintel valued the market for kosher-certified prepared foods, as well as kosher meat, dairy and fish, at $12.5bn in 2008, a rise of 64 percent on 2003.
Kosher foods are those that conform to Jewish religious rules, requiring careful slaughter of animals, and even forbidding the use of machinery or utensils which had previously been used for the preparation of non-kosher food.
Mintel’s research surveyed 2,500 adults, of whom 13 percent said they intentionally purchased kosher foods.