Editor’s Letter (BTUS Spring 2008)

The Hebrew language name for the holiday of Passover – Pesach — conveys conversation, with “Pe” meaning mouth and “sach” connoting speaking or conversing.

The matzah referred to as lechem oni, poor man’s bread, is seen not simply as a food consumed when hastily leaving Egypt, but as a medium for discussion and elaboration on countless Passover themes. The Bible instructs that we verbally communicate to our children on Passover night and tell them about the most consequential event in the annals of Jewish history. An actual and active dialogue must be at the core of the Passover experience, with the children as the focus of that life experience. The Haggadah text was specifically created as the vehicle through which all can be told and explained. There is no genuine Passover experience without adequate and meaningful conversation, discussion, analysis and talking. On Passover night silence is not a virtue; as a matter of fact, the more prolonged the discussion and conversation is on this night, the greater the reward. In short, on Passover, we talk it up.

We therefore devote two major articles in this Behind the Union Symbol issue to communicate yet again the enormity of the Passover season marketplace and its prominence in the ever-growing kosher marketplace. For the kosher food industry, there simply is no season like Passover. Data consistently shows that Passover represents 40 percent of annual sales of the nearly $10 billion kosher market in the United States. The presentations by Bayla Sheva Brenner and Menachem Lubinsky communicate the Passover message with clarity and many current trends.

Amid the explosive growth of the U.S kosher food industry, the recent survey conducted by WAC Survey and Strategic Consulting has found the OU symbol of the Orthodox Union to be consumer’s preferred kosher certification. OU was the best known and most widely recognized kosher certification symbol by a wide margin among Jewish and non-Jewish respondents. “OU is the symbol most often on food purchased by respondents by a 3-to-1 margin.” All of us at the Orthodox Union are truly gratified by these reassuring results, which strongly reaffirm the OU’s leadership role in all categories of the kosher certification arena.

Since the news of the survey has been released, several major OU certified companies have asked to discuss expansion of their OU certification for divisions not yet certified, while others have requested that the results be forwarded to suppliers whom they are eager to see become OU certified. A marketing vice president noted after seeing the power point presentation (which we can forward to you) highlighting the survey results, “This is what I always hoped to have for my kosher marketing approaches.”

The media’s continued fascination with the explosive kosher marketplace, its recognition of the OU as kosher’s leader, and its reach all the way to China, is the core of a fascinating piece by Stan L. Friedman and Ilya Welfeld. There is hardly a major media outlet that did not take note of OU kosher’s hundreds of certified plants in China — and the number is growing.

“To Life, To Life, L’Chaim, L’Chaim, L’chaim, To Life,” words immortalized by Fiddler on the Roof’s Tevye, words exchanged by Jews for centuries when sharing a drink, always accompanied by fervent wishes of L’Chaim for all that’s good and worthy in life. And now many more L’Chaims will be exchanged as DeKuyper, the best-selling line of cordials and liqueurs in the United States, announced that its nearly 60 flavors received kosher certification from the OU. Leafing through the issue, these new “Cheers” join right alongside the renowned Stolichnaya vodkas, the longest OU certified Russian vodka line, and the popular Italian Frangelico. And more to come!

OU Kosher Staff