The Hanover Foods: Quality, Kosher Certification, and Connecting with Consumers

Q: Is it important to have the OU Kosher symbol prominently displayed on Hanover products?

Russel Smith: It’s always on the front panel or the front of the bag, whether it’s frozen or canned. We make sure it’s prominently positioned. We call them buttons, you know, if it’s vegan, or if it’s grown in the USA. OU is prominently positioned where it needs to be. It doesn’t make sense to have OU on the back of a can, so a consumer has to turn it around to see it. That really defeats the purpose of it.

There are OU consumers that buy OU specifically, obviously. If my competitor has it right on the front but mine’s on the back and they have to search for it, nobody has time to do that. They’re going to buy the one that has OU on the front. We’re going to keep it where it was because people are habitual; they buy by habit and comfort. It’s very repetitive, and it’s hard to change someone’s pattern.

Q: How do you change messaging for millennials?

Russel Smith: It’s more about simplicity in photography. The Hanover brands are always going to be a Hanover brand; it’s been around since 1924. But it’s more about the product photography, the nutritional callouts, vegan, recyclable steel, and recyclable paper – things that are important not only to people like you and me, but the younger generation also wants social responsibility. They want to support a brand that is responsible for their planet. So, when we redesigned our bean cans, we made sure they were vegan, recyclable, and grown in the USA where applicable.

Q: Does OU Kosher come up in conversations with buyers and retailers?

Russel Smith: It’s a very big aspect of our canned and frozen portfolio. To make sure, if possible, we include the OU certification on our products. We are in and around some major cities on the eastern seaboard where OU is important to consumers. If you’re a brand in that category, you have to be OU certified.

Q: Can you tell me about your experience with food shopping?

Russel Smith: When I go to stores to do food shopping for my house, I like to observe what other people, especially moms, have in their shopping carts. If they don’t have Hanover or any other brand that I sell, like Hanover, I pay attention to what they buy and why they buy it.

Q: Have you ever pulled someone aside and told them they need to swap out one of their brands in their shopping cart for Hanover?

Russel Smith: I’ve been doing that for 30 years.

Q: You have?

Russel Smith: Yes, I’m serious.

Q: So, what happens when you do that?

Russel Smith: Often, they say, “Oh, I’ve never tried it. I never thought to try it. I didn’t realize it was that good.”

Q: What would you like say to kosher consumers?

Russel Smith: I think the most important thing is that Hanover Foods is a company that prides itself on quality and complete consumer satisfaction, including for the OU consumer. Wherever possible, when we can be certified OU on our cans, we want to make sure that everyone knows our products meet the highest standards.

Whether they’re existing or new consumers, they will certainly never be disappointed. They will be heard, and as we grow, we hope they can grow with us.

OU Kosher Staff