MORE THAN JUST PICKLES

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The decision to purchase kosher food has little to do with religion. In fact, a nationally representative telephone survey of 2,011 adults, conducted in January by Chicago-based Mintel Consumer Intelligence, found that close to a third of Americans (28 percent) have bought kosher foods, even though observant Jews — those most likely to keep kosher in their homes — make up at most 1 percent of the U.S. population. It seems that kosher products' strict preparation processes and precise labeling of ingredients entice a diverse chunk of consumers, from vegetarians to people who prefer organic food to Muslims who adhere to dietary laws. Kosher products' reputation for quality is the primary attraction for 24 percent of those who purchase such products, while religion motivates only 12 percent of shoppers. And manufacturers are certainly doing their best to cater to the growing market: In 2002, 75,000 packaged goods were certified kosher, up from 60,000 in 2000.

DISCERNING PALATES

Thirty-five percent of consumers who buy kosher products do so because they like the taste or flavor. Only 8 percent of Americans actually keep kosher full-time.

OF THOSE WHO BUY KOSHER PRODUCTS, PERCENT WHO SAY THEY DO SO FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

I like the taste/flavor 35%
Because of the guidelines under which they are produced 16%
I want vegetarian products 8%
They are good products (high quality/look good, etc.) 8%
I keep kosher in my home 8%
I like the pickles/pickles are good 7%
The products are safe/healthier 5%
I want to obtain a product consistent with halal 4%
Because they are on sale/price is good 4%
Source: Mintel/ICR
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