By Howard Blas ~
SECAUCUS, N.J. – Warren Webber has enjoyed his long career in the electronics business. But nine years ago, he decided to venture into the relish business.
“It started as a joke,” the gregarious West Hartford, Conn. resident told the Ledger from his Warren’s Foods booth at Kosherfest 2011 in the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, New Jersey in October. The two-day kosher food trade show featuring kosher food, foodservice, drink, wine and Jewish gifts from around the world is the largest of its kind.
“It was a 60 year old recipe,” says Warren.”
“He tweaked it and tweaked it!” adds wife, Carol, as the couple scooped samples of “Webber’s Original Relish—Olde Tyme Pepper Recipe” and “Louie’s Original Salsa” onto scooping chips for curious visitors to sample.
The Webbers were not the only “mom and pop” company on hand. Viktoria Sater, a Long Island mother of three, recently started Viktoria’s Gourmet Foods. She and her husband offered samples of Viki’s Granola to visitors. Dawn Wolstein-Petrini and her husband, Mauro, owners of the Gelato Shoppe Petrini, were also busy dishing out a dozen flavors of dairy and pareve gelato from their cart. Rabbi Adam Mintz, spiritual leader of the Congregation Kehilat Rayim Ahuvim, a Modern Orthodox shul on New York’s Upper West Side, along with his wife and several friends who were decked out in royal blue “The Chosen Mint” t-shirts, were giving out samples of “Rabbi Mintz’ Classic Kosher Mints.”
Of course, more established companies like Manischewitz and Osem had large display booths. Well-known companies like Dr. Praeger’s, Gold’s Horseradish and Guss’ Pickles were also on hand, giving out samples of products, old and new. Countries displaying kosher products include Israel, Argentina, the Philippines, Finland, Canada, England, Australia, France, Scotland, Brazil, Ecuador, Japan, and the Former Soviet Union.
Israeli companies received several new product awards: for best new frozen entrée (Ta’amati Meat Flavor Meatless bourekas); best new jam or preserve (Tishbi Passion Fruit Champagne Preserve); best new dips, spreads, salsas (Sabra Guacamole); and best new savory and salty snack food (Bamba Halva).
An Argentinean company, Marumatok SA, won an award for best new wine, beer or spirit (Fincas Marumatok Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec).
All visitors to Kosherfest were made aware of a few very important facts about today’s kosher food market: there are an estimated 12,250,000 kosher consumers in the U.S. who help support a $12,500,000,000 market in kosher food. Given that only 1.3 million of these people are Jewish year-round kosher consumers, it stands to reason that many of the consumer who buy kosher include others, including Muslim halal consumers, and those looking for vegetarian and non-dairy products.
According to Menachem Lubinsky, founder and co-producer of Kosherfest, “Natural, healthy and gluten-free products continue to grow among new kosher product categories, as an estimated 18 million people in the U.S. are sensitive to gluten.”
Howard Blas is a freelance writer.