There are many certifications you may want to feature on your product, depending on what’s appropriate like Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, nut-free and more. But a food certification that’s been around longer than any of these is the Kosher one.
Rabbi Daniel Sharratt, Rabbinic coordinator for Orthodox Union, a Kosher certification agency based in New York whose clients include Snacklins, The Only Bean, and PureWild, has outlined for Foodboro a few important things to know about obtaining kosher certification and how having this can help your business. Learn more about obtaining kosher certification here.
Let’s start with the most important question first—why should makers obtain a kosher certification?
Becoming kosher certified widens the demographic of your consumers and buyers. Today’s busy shoppers might not have time to stop and read labels. Instead, they choose the products that have a clear kosher certification. Because of this, a product with a prominent OU symbol is more likely to make it into a smart shopper’s cart.
A Kosher certification also helps you connect to more distributors, brokers, supermarket chains and potential clients for private labeling/co-manufacturing. Indeed, Kosher symbols boost market share and win more highly coveted shelf space. A kosher product will outperform a non-Kosher product by 20%.
Next, what do makers need to know about getting a Kosher certification for their product?
Makers need to know that not every agency is widely accepted, and due diligence is needed to get the right one. This may be as simple as asking someone who has a Kosher Diet if they recognize a particular agency. For example, the OU is the world’s largest and most recognized agency, certifying over 1.2 million products throughout the world. We certify over 70% of the kosher market and would be a prime example of a universally accepted certification.
Contrary to what one might think, with regard to the basic knowledge of what is kosher and what isn’t, makers do not need to know beforehand as our experts can guide and inform from the simplest of questions to very complex ones. For example, we have Rabbis involved with research for meat grown in laboratories, DNA synthesis for molecular coating to tag various ingredients in the marketplace, Controlled Environment Agriculture and more.
How does OU Kosher Certification work?
We ask you to fill out a straightforward application with your facility, ingredient, and product information which we carefully review. We then arrange an initial audit to assess how we would setup a kosher program, which is detailed in a contract together with you. Once you become certified, you can add ingredients and/or products as you go along, at any time, for our review.
In terms of the Kosher program itself, unlike other types of certifications which will either certify the process but necessarily the final product (or vice versa), Kosher is unique in that both are required. This typically involves unannounced visits reviewing the processes, ingredients, and product labels.
What are the expected costs for getting a Kosher certification? And how often does the certification need to be renewed?
Every industry and facility are different when it comes to the cost of supervision. For example, a water bottle facility is not going to require the level of supervision as a complex facility producing kosher and non-kosher glycerin. When we conduct an initial visit, that helps us determine the Kosher Program that would be involved and quote accordingly (see attached for a basic step by step of the certification process). Our Kosher certification is renewed on an annual basis.
Beyond getting a certification, are there any other types of Kosher partnerships out there?
Yes! Although, strictly speaking, our certification is making sure products are Kosher. We also care about our clients’ success. We have access to thousands of co-manufacturers and distributors to help our client “get their foot in the door.”