While orthodox Jews eat foods certified as kosher all year round, most are considered ‘chametz’ – that is, they can be eaten at any time except Passover, the special time in the religious calendar that starts on the 15th day of the month of Nisan.
Kosher for Passover (KFP) is the highest level of purity, and foods with this certification can be eaten both at Passover and throughout the rest of the year. Passover cheese production requires that all ingredients are approved by a Rabbi.
Chr Hansen launched its first two blends of KFP cheese cultures last winter. It is now adding two more to the range. These are known as F-DVS KFP CHEESE -03 and -04.
The company is expecting these to be popular with cheese makers who cater to the two biggest kosher markets, Israel and the US. However there is evidence that the close attention to purity and the safety mechanisms associated with kosher approval are attracting increasing numbers of non-Jews to seek out kosher products.
The same phenomenon appears to be occurring in other markets. Last year a report from the USDA’s Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) claimed that opportunities are plentiful for suppliers of kosher ingredients to France, where the market continues to boom thanks to growing interest from mainstream consumers.
It said the French market had grown by an average of 16 per cent a year since the 1990s and is now worth an estimated $549 (€385).
Israel export values are also growing in line with an increasing global demand for kosher food requirements. Business Monitor International (BMI) released a report on Israel Food Drink Report in 2008, which showed that the total value of Israel exports has gone up from €276.3m in 2002 to €374.3m in 2007.
BMI predicted the export market will continue to grow to reach €460.9m in 2012.
Roy Riley, marketing director for food cultures and enzymes at Chr Hansen USA pointed out that there are some problems associated with KFP cultures, compared with normal cheese cultures.
One reason for this is that the KFP market is considered small, so programmes do not tend to have the same level of support and culture rotations are small. Moreover, restrictions on the base ingredients can have an effect on activity and performance.
Chr Hansen believes its KFP cultures are faster, more durable, and give consistency and durability that often eludes KFP cheese makers.
The company also offers a limited range of meat cultures that meet KFP standards.