Kosher food industry an easy market for producers to enter
If one were to ask a random person on the street to define kosher, his or her definition might be very different than mine. For me, kosher is both dietary and spiritual: every type of food and drink that I consume has to be kosher. I am not alone, it is estimated that over 300,000 Canadians also keep kosher to some extent. Kosher is defined as a set of food rules that determine what Jewish people can eat. This diet entails that animals must be harvested and prepared in a specific way, in which the blood is drained from the body, while certain creatures such as pigs and shellfish, are forbidden altogether. With new food products being released every day, it is easier than ever to abide by the Jewish dietary laws enforcing consumption of inspected foods.
In order for a food product to be kosher, the item has to be inspected by an authoritative rabbi to ensure that the Jewish dietary laws have been met. The symbols above guarantee that an item is kosher, and they can be found on thousands of products in your grocery store. Many producers in rural Ontario overlook this incredible opportunity to branch into a $3.4-billion industry, by simply filling out an application. In addition, many people perceive kosher products to be cleaner and better overall, which ultimately translates to a higher volume of sales than the non-kosher counterparts.
I know that there are incredible opportunities for producers in Ontario to obtain kosher certification while filling the Jewish community’s need for food products. There are a number of ways that farmers could meet the requirements for certification. For produce growers, it is as simple as keeping a clean food production facility, free from insects. All fruits and vegetables are considered kosher as long as they are free from bugs. For other types of food products, it is necessary that dairy and meat are kept separate in the production facility. Dairy and meat products must come from kosher animals (cattle, sheep, goats, and deer). I have a few proposed suggestions for people interested in this potential business opportunity. For people who raise cattle, it is possible to have the animals harvested at a kosher facility. For those who produce dairy products, kosher certification could be the extra qualification necessary to get a space on a grocery store shelf. There are also ingredients and items that are rarely kosher simply because there are not enough business owners pursuing certification. For example, maple syrup is desired by many people in Israel. However, it is impossible to produce it there. Here in Ontario, we produce hundreds of thousands of litres of maple syrup annually, yet few of the brands are kosher. There is a huge market for this product and many others. As Galen Weston says, “If you don’t look for an opportunity, you’ll never find one”.