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EXPO EAST 2015 Recap

by Arlene Mathes-Scharf; Copyright © 2015 Scharf Associates

Expo East is the trade show for the natural and organic foods industry. It used to be counter-culture, but now has become mainstream. It is useful to keep abreast of what is new in the Natural Products industry and what kosher products are offered.

Many products of the products exhibited at the Natural Products Expo in Baltimore in 2015 have at least one of the following characteristics: raw, organic, sustainable, probiotic, microbiome, sprouted, vegetarian or vegan.

Quite a few kosher products were exhibited at Expo East (Natural Products Expo). Most of the kosher products that were exhibited were snack products. There were many kosher cookies, chips, crackers and bars. Many were dairy, but there were also quite a few pareve ones as well. There were also kosher cholov stam yogurts and kosher ice creams, both dairy and pareve.

However, many products that were exhibited could be kosher but are not certified to be kosher. For some products I was told that they could be certified, but the companies did not want to pay the fees. At least one company put kosher on the label, but told me no agency involved. When I asked the companies if they are certified as kosher I was told the product is organic, vegan, non-GMO. Kosher used to be the only certification for products. Now companies are paying for so many certifications, they do not see the need for one more. Many companies could not understand could not understand why I could not try their product when they were so well certified (just not kosher certified).

Many of the non-certified companies were interested in kosher and quite a few companies were happy to learn about how to become kosher certified. I saw a number of Orthodox Jews walking the show, looking to purchase the products that were exhibited. There is a market for kosher, healthy products.

Kosher companies and certifications need to educate the public and companies that kosher certification provides traceablity and forces better control of processing conditions. They need to educate people that pareve processed foods do not contain any meat (other than possibly gelatin) when the product is processed unlike other supposedly vegetarian products, (see http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W357). Companies and the public can also be educated that Passover proudcts serve the market for no gluten, soy and corn, with very good traceability and control of processing conditions.

Healthy kosher food is available and attainable, but more can be done to expand this market.

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