We hired a couple survey firms to help us get an insider look from the consumer perspective: First, we brought in almost 200 respondents who were screened as Costco members who regularly shop at their Wholesale store. The results were amazing, so let’s get right to them: only 10.1 % of them recognized the trademarked and ubiquitous OU kosher seal (the circled “U” form Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America), while only 1.5% recognized the less familiar COR kosher seal representing the services of Kashruth Council of Canada (the agency that kosher-certifies Kirkland dishwasher detergent).
Kirkland is Costco’s proprietary brand. These results make a stark challenge to OU Kosher’s online claim that their 96 year old kosher seal “has become an increasingly important marketing device…[giving] a product a competitive edge that makes it sell faster, thus causing supermarkets to favor brands with certification.”
We threw in some other common symbols for our respondents to identify, and here were those results: 89.4% recognized the “Recycle” symbol; 56.1% recognized the Registered Trademark symbol; 69.7% recognized the “Certified Gluten-Free” symbol even though we didn’t include the text that normally accompanies that certification seal. Interestingly enough, the Gluten-Free is a recent certification in the food industry, but identified at a seven fold rate over the century old kosher seal.
Costco members are said to be savvy shoppers, and many are restaurant and eatery owners buying their weekly supplies there. They likely scrutinize product labels a little closer than the average supermarket shopper, and in many cases these certification seals are big and bold on the front of the large wholesale shipping boxes that sit on the shelves. So there’s definitely more exposure of these certification seals than anywhere else.
Now in our second survey we wished to get a measure of shopper behavior and attitudes towards certification symbols in general, and with regards to religious symbols. Our results indicate that 39% prefer to not have any religious intervention in the food they purchase, while 19% believe that a higher level of transparency should be given on the product label to indicate this. Check out our 500 respondent survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-YJG3XHS27/
69.4% do not regularly look for religious seals on their products when they shop. So is it reasonable for companies to produce NOT Kosher-Certified (NKC) equivalent products to accommodate them?
When we find that consumers cannot find American produced butter, cooking spray oil, aluminum foil, peanut butter, and a lot more unless it has had the intermediary kosher agencies overseeing their production – and the people don’t know it – then this lack of transparency needs fixing. Please share this information.