‘Kosher food’ was among the most popular product booths at the annual food & beverages expo in Moscow, Russia in early February. Called “ProdExpo”, the exposition is the largest industry event in Eastern Europe and sets the trends in the market for the upcoming year. The Kashrut department of Russian rabbinate participated in the expo for the third consecutive year.
Participation in the event helps expose kosher food and certification to more manufacturers, distributors and end-sellers, whether in stores or restaurants. “The goal is to achieve a position where any Jewish person in Russia and the FSU will not hesitate to buy kosher products should they want to,” said chief rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar in an interview to Israeli media after the event.
The popularity and availability of kosher products in Russia have been on a steady rise for the past decade. Whereas in mid-90’s, kosher food was scarcely available in specialty shops usually located near a city synagogue, and those keeping the strict dietary laws had to import a large part of it from Israel or the United States, now a lot of products are available locally.
Furthermore, research indicates that 80 percent of supermarket kosher food consumers are not Jewish – kosher food is perceived to be of superior quality and is promoted by upscale supermarkets in large cities. “Kosher certification is a symbol of quality,” said Yosef Verzub, director of the Russian Kashrut department. “We ourselves are the consumers of these products, and thus we are personally invested in it.”
Over the last year the assortment of Russian kosher products increased to include sweets from the Mars company, several bread and confectionery manufacturers, and more.
Kosher certification also includes beverages and alcohol, which were also demonstrated at the rabbinate’s booth at the expo to much visitor interest.