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Passover 2013 Recap

Kashrut.com had a banner season for Passover 2013.

Kashrut.com is a kosher-food-information website, established in May 1996. Since then, we’ve been providing information, alerts, and recipes, and we also serve as a clearinghouse for all of the Passover information on the web.

For the Passover 2013 season – from February 19th to April 9th – the site had over 349,949 page downloads to 125,641 distinct hosts. The Passover index page itself had over 55,000 visitors. The website transferred over 76 gigabytes of information.

We have found two interesting things this Passover:

1. Healthy Ingredients

People are looking for healthy ingredients that are usable for Passover.

The product that we got the most questions about was quinoa. This was easy to answer, since quinoa is available, certified as kosher-for-Passover (though it’s not available everywhere, such as in Sharon, MA, home of Kashrut.com).

The second most popular question was about coconut oil. People are on the lookout for healthier oils.

A lot of questions that we got were about healthy products that could conceivably be usable for Passover, but were not certified. Some of the products that people were looking for were kosher-for-Passover agave nectar, non-nutritive sweeteners, and coconut milk.

In most cases, I found that the kashrus agencies do not say that a product is usable for Passover unless it is certified as such. The OU has had no new products listed on the gray pages (products usable for Passover without Passover certification) in many years. However, they have looked at the usability of soy, rice milks and baby formula for Passover, because of great demand and listed this elsewhere on their Passover website. Both the manufacturers and the kashrus agencies are failing to address the healthy-food-for-Passover market, which is surprising, since many of these manufacturers are already careful with their processing or are aiming for the “free-from” allergen market, making them ideal for the gluten-free (non-gebruckts), soy-free and corn-free market of Pesach.

2. Unwieldy Lists

A problem that got worse in 2013 was an overdose of information. The kashrus agencies have produced large documents listing their Passover information, but these are hard to download and difficult to read on many electronic devices. They were also set up in a format in which it was difficult to search for information, and thus, resulted in less information getting through to the consumer.

From the questions that I got, I could tell that people were not reading them, or were unable to find the information that they needed.

Passover is the most important time for the kosher-food industry and the kashrus agencies. They do a lot, but a lot more can be done to ensure a supply of healthy foods that are available for use on this holiday.

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Phone: (781)784-6890 
E-mail: ajms@kashrut.com
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Arlene J. Mathes-Scharf  
Food Scientist - Kosher Food Specialist
Scharf Associates
P.O. Box 50
Sharon, MA 02067