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Passover 2018 Recap

Kashrut.com had a banner season for Passover 2018. Kashrut.com has reached its 22nd anniversary. Kashrut.com is a kosher-food-information website that was established in May 1996. Since then, Kashrut.com has been providing information, alerts, and recipes, and serves as a clearinghouse for all of the Passover information on the web. During the Passover 2018 Season: (February 25 to April 8, 2018) the site had over 155,000 page downloads from 92151 Visits. The Passover index page itself had over 20,000 visitors. The website transferred 59.7GB gigabytes of information.

Many of the trends that we saw in 2017 are continuing to accelerate. These trends are the following:

Healthy Ingredients:

One of the biggest trends in the food industry today is "free-from". Many products produced for the "healthy, natural" market should be easy to make available for Passover since they are minimally processed, gluten-free, vegan, soy-free and corn-free. These products should be fairly simple to get Passover certified, but are not available. Consumers who contacted kashrus agencies about many of these products were told that the agency had no information about them..
We should re-educate consumers and companies that kosher for Passover products require "traceability", are corn-free, soy-free, and gluten-free. Passover certification should be a desirable certification, Perhaps kashrus agencies could provide a designation or list of products produced year-round that are inherently kosher for Passover; such as is done now for Maxwell House coffee, Bigelow tea, Lipton tea or RealLemon Lemon Juice.

Many kosher consumers are trying to eat healthier. Some Companies have started to reach out to the "healthy" Passover market that consumers are seeking with Passover quinoa, coconut flour and almond flour. Many of these products were not available outside the major Jewish markets. There was also a lot of confusion about the Passover status of a number of ingredients including quinoa, coconut flour, avocado oil. I noticed issues with the following products::

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. To help the consumer, the OU has looked at the usability of soy, rice milks and baby formula for Passover, because of the great demand and listed this information 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.

Shortage of chalov stam dairy products in New England and elsewhere:

Many of the usual chalav stam dairy products certified for Passover did not arrive in the Boston area. The products were listed as available certified in the OU Passover Guide, but did not show up or were delivered only once to the local supermarkets. So if you were not in the supermarket the "right day", the products were unavailable.

Large documents from the kashrus agencies that people do not read

The other thing that I noticed from the questions that I got is that the Kashrus agencies are producing large on-line documents that many people do not read or use. The kashrus agencies feel that this is the time that they get people's attention, so they produce large documents with many articles, not necessarily about Passover and which are money maker for the agencies because they contain ads. These documents are very difficult for users to navigate and find information.
A positive development: The Chicago Rabbinical Council Askcrc.org website is a useful resource for kashrus and Passover kashrus questions.

Passover is the most important time for the kosher-food industry and the kashrus agencies. From KosherToday: "As many as 80% of American Jews participate in at least one Seder, according to Jewish population studies, contributing to a dynamic Passover market, which represents nearly 40% of year-round kosher food sales. Retailers in Brooklyn, Monsey and Lakewood said that a growing community was simply buying more, an indication that demographics are playing a major role in the soaring kosher food market."

There is a lot that has been done, but a lot more that can be done to ensure a supply of healthy foods that are available for use on this holiday.

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Arlene J. Mathes-Scharf  
Food Scientist - Kosher Food Specialist
Scharf Associates
P.O. Box 50
Sharon, MA 02067