(New York Jewish Week via JTA) – “Honey, I think I might have a buyer! A man in a black suit shouted into his phone, pacing his 10 ‘x 10’ booth displaying dozens of kosher bottles of South African wine. “But we have to move now.”
Kosherfest, the world’s largest certified kosher produce trade show, returned to the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey this year, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. From restaurateurs and tour operators to hotel chains and supermarkets, “every type of kosher decision maker will find opportunities and inspiration at Kosherfest,” according to the event’s website. The show is co-produced by Diversified Business Communications and Lubicom, and Kosher Today, a trade magazine.
Over 300 different exhibitors made the trip to Secaucus this week, all vying for the opportunity to present their products to the biggest names in the kosher industry. Some vendors have gone for flashy displays, decorating their stands to look like a real bakery counter or cafe. Some suppliers, like Appetizing Brooklyn’s Venerable Flaum, instead chose to showcase the breadth of its products, offering an impressive range of samples including pizza slices, pasta, hummus, dips and cheese. In addition to food, there were stalls for supplements, tableware, and plastic utensils.
If the food itself doesn’t get the point across, a brand’s spokesperson will. Some companies even hire outside people to promote their products for the two-day event.
Chanie Engel, who could be found at the Mehadrin Dairy stand this year, used a microphone to attract the attention of festival-goers. She has worked on various booths at Kosherfest for the past 15 years. “They are fighting for me,” Engel told New York Jewish Week, lowering his microphone. “I’m the best.”
While pushing the Gevina Farms Greek yogurt, she chats with the participants, guessing their accents. “You’re from Dallas,” she said to a man. “You’re from Midwood,” she said to another.
Her friend, Dina Tocker, represented the dairy stand – until Engel was hired, that is. This year she went fleishig (meat), holding the fort of KJ Poultry from Monroe, New York. “I don’t even need a microphone,” she said. “I’m strong enough without it.”
Although Kosherfest was smaller this year – Covid-related travel restrictions meant a limited international presence – Tocker was happy to see that many companies had survived the ‘It’s nice to be back’ pandemic, she declared.
Although it may be a large business convention, basically Kosherfest resembled a Jewish gathering. And, like any Jewish gathering, it seemed like most of the attendees were there to eat. So we did. Food samples were both plentiful and varied, from kimchi and gelato to Slivovitz. And while most of the dishes were what you expected – pastries, cold cuts and kugel – here are five of the most interesting Kosherfest items that you might soon see at your local kosher supermarket.
Bee water turns an age-old remedy for a sore throat – honey – into a prepackaged drink packed with vitamins and flavors. There are five different flavors to choose from, including blueberry and cinnamon, and an organic range along the way. It tastes like bottled Rosh Hashanah which you can enjoy all year round. A varied 12-bottle pack currently sells for $ 35.99.
Gone are the days of wondering what prosciutto, bacon or chorizo tastes like. After working at a leading kosher restaurant in Paris, French chef Benjamin Lapin has spent years researching and developing 100% kosher beef-based charcuterie recipes. Although Ben’s Best is based in Florida, kosher shoppers can order online and have their cured meats shipped anywhere.
With standard time on our doorstep – hello, sunset at 4:45 am! – it is important to get extra vitamin D wherever you can. Winner of Kosherfest’s Best New Product in the Health & Wellness category, Good Raz (pronounced “raze”) has developed tasteless, odorless, water-soluble vitamin D3 drops to put in your morning coffee or water. It’s good for kids who don’t like to swallow pills, and the water-soluble technology means it will be absorbed into your system faster than pills, the manufacturer claims. One bottle costs $ 19.99 and lasts 4 months.
Traveling from St. Johnsbury, VT, Cary & Main brought a taste of Green Mountain State with their maple cream, a delicious creamy maple spread that is pareve (no meat or dairy) . The spread can go on toast, crackers, baked goods, or even be eaten straight from the jar (which costs $ 18.75). There are two varieties, Golden and Amber, and both are “handcrafted by artisans in a small Vermont town as quaint as you imagine, ”according to their website.
Cannabidiol or CBD-infused products have taken over the food industry in recent years, and the kosher industry is no different. Tauriga Sciences, a life sciences company based in Wappingers Falls, New York, returned to Kosherfest this year with six different flavors of Tauri-Gum, a chewing gum infused with CBD or CBG (cannabigerol), both of which are non-intoxicating and believed to reduce inflammation and relieve stress, among other health benefits. Fun fact: Influencer and activist Adina Miles-Sash, known on Instagram as FlatbushGirl, is the brand’s marketing director. An eight-piece pack goes from $ 17.99 to $ 22.99 depending on flavor, with subscription options available.