In our experience the first question that companies have in contacting us regarding Kosher certification is, ”Rabbi, what will it cost us to become Kosher certified?”
This is a very important question. However, in our experience we know that there is a more critical question that must be addressed first. Before understanding the cost of kosher certification, companies need to ask, “Is my product or product line capable of becoming kosher certified?” Since there are several potential obstacles that may keep food manufacturers from obtaining kosher certification, kosher certification viability cannot be assumed. If you are not a food manufacturer, then please feel free to contact us directly to discuss what unique issues may pertain to the viability of your product or services becoming Kosher certified.
At EarthKosher, we understand that companies that contact us are protective about their proprietary processes, ingredients, formulas, suppliers, or manufacturing agents. For this reason, we put our clients’ minds at ease and when asked will sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. We also have developed other means of protecting a prospective client’s confidentiality considerations when needed.
To determine the viability of your product or product line becoming Kosher certified we need to understand some very specific information about your company’s operations. These are some questions we commonly ask during the kosher certification process:
Where exactly are your products made?
Is this facility firstly yours and secondly, dedicated to these Kosher intended products? If not what else is made there? What else do you plan to make there if anything?
How are your products made? Do you have a flow chart that describes the production process?
What are all the ingredients and processing aids used in the products you wish to become Kosher certified? If other products not intended for Kosher certification are made in the same facility we need the ingredients the Non-Kosher products are comprised of identified as well. It is very important to be comprehensive one ingredient can change the whole picture!
Do you have letters of Kosher certification from your suppliers for any of your ingredients?
If you use a contract manufacturer what is their contact information and address? What else to your knowledge is made or packed there? Have they made Kosher certified products before?
Where are your products packaged?
Does your company provide contract manufacturing services to others? If so what kind of products do you make or package for them?
If your production facility is in a country outside of the United States and Canada what is the airport that is nearest to your production facility? What is the distance between the airport and your facility? Is a company representative able to escort the Kosher inspector to and from the facility?
Has your company been Kosher certified before? If so, why was the program discontinued? If you are currently Kosher certified what is the reason you are seeking a change?
Is your company Jewish owned in part or whole? This relates to certain technical issues regarding Jewish holidays or flour based products. There is no preferential treatment of Jewish owned companies whatsoever.
Once our experienced rabbis have the company specific information relevant to your company’s Kosher certification, we can determine if your company is eligible for kosher certification on an immediate basis.
EarthKosher’s information gathering processes that inform our determination of Kosher certification viability are often done electronically or over the phone. This saves our clients from filling out tedious paper applications and allows for a more responsive and timely dialogue on any issues or questions that potentially arise.
There are certain circumstances where a kosher certification organization will have to conduct an onsite Feasibility Study before offering a definitive decision on the viability of your company receiving Kosher certification. If this circumstance arises, there is a one-time, non-refundable fee for this Feasibility Study. The cost of this fee depends on the location of the facility being reviewed.
Once we complete the Feasibility Study and determine kosher certification viability, we provide a quote regarding the cost of kosher certification for your company on an immediate basis.
Tens of thousands of companies on a global basis have successfully gone through the process and requirements to have their products kosher certified. However, there are situations where kosher certification is not viable. There are several potential reasons for this: generally, they tend to fall into technical or fiscal issues. There are also limited instances where the reasons are political or security related. For those who are starting their research into the possibility of kosher certification, EarthKosher has compiled a list of issues you may want to take into account as you begin the Kosher certification process. We encourage you to contact us with any questions as each company situation is unique.
- There are countries that are considered unsafe to send a rabbi in order to inspect a company for its kosher certification. For example, EarthKosher has turned down requests for kosher certification in Lebanon. However, there are kosher certified products coming out of Iran and Pakistan, so there is a lot of grey area to take into account. Safety issues also apply in any country where there is ongoing civil war.
- In order to have a kosher product you need to have kosher ingredients. These ingredients and their suppliers must also be stable. While kosher certification organizations do not restrict companies to a specific supplier of an ingredient, they do insist that any new supplier needs to be pre-approved by the kosher certification organization. If a company needs to retain the right to have a free hand at sourcing ingredients without pre-approval from the Kosher certification agency, this can, depending on what these ingredients are, be an issue that blocks kosher certification from being viable.
- The easiest way to establish a kosher certification program is if a company has its own facility that is exclusively dedicated to kosher certified products. If a company controls the ingredients and equipment, then a kosher program is viable so long as these conform to Kosher certification requirements. When companies share a facility, produce kosher and non-kosher in the same facility, or use a Contract Manufacturer that produces non-kosher, it may be impossible to provide kosher certification under these circumstances. A kosher certification organization may deem this a high risk situation and won’t get involved or the company will nix the idea due to the cost of full-time Kosher supervision of production which can at times be required by the Kosher certification agency. With that said, it is necessary to point out that there are facilities that produce kosher and non-kosher on the same equipment and within the same facility that are kosher certified and find it worthwhile and fiscally viable. These factors depend on the specifics of the company. Before coming to any conclusions, the best course of action is to discuss the specifics of your situation with us.
- Kosher certification requirements are not limited to verifying kosher ingredients and equipment use. There are also for limited products where kosher requirements involve the production process itself that is to say certain food products require that the kosher inspector/supervisor actually be involved in the actual production process. Kosher cheese and wine production are two examples of this scenario and there are some others. While kosher certification is possible in these situations, some company’s may find this process cost prohibitive or that the requirements are too restrictive.
- Companies that provide Contract Manufacturing services to numerous companies may be averse to some kosher certification requirements. When working with companies that provide Contract Manufacturer services, the simplest situation is where the Contract Manufacturer commits to being a fully kosher facility. When this is not an option in the kosher certification process, keeping Kosher certification may require the frequent kosherization of equipment and more frequent inspections. This will involve additional costs. While there are countless numbers of companies that engage kosher certification agencies under these circumstances, there are many others that don’t deem these certification costs worthwhile.
- Some companies are committed to a very specific and exact ingredient. For example: wine, vinegar, cheese, or flavorings that are not available as kosher or do not offer kosher options that have the same quality, taste, or pricing, this will make kosher certification not possible.
- If a company has been kosher certified in the past and violated its contractual terms (whether technical or fiscal violations) with its prior kosher certification organization, other kosher certifiers may be reluctant to work with this company. In these situations, the prospective kosher certifier will often contact the original Kosher certification agency for more information. However, given that kosher certification is essentially a risk management business, most kosher certifiers are averse to these kinds of situations unless there is a solid explanation for the violations with the prior agency or clear changes that have been made in ownership or management.
- Companies sometimes assume that kosher certification pricing should be similar to Organic certification pricing. In these instances, these companies are not prepared for what a kosher certifier will charge to certify their products. At EarthKosher we offer affordable pricing for Kosher certification, however, please understand that this assumption is a conceptual flaw, rooted in a lack of understanding about Kosher vs. Organic certification requirements. It is necessary to understand that although each of these certifications conducts inspections and are concerned with equipment, ingredients, and issues of cross-contamination, the underpinnings of these various certifications are very different. For example, it is common for Kosher certification agencies to conduct monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly inspections. Other certifications often require an annual inspection if that. The more frequent the inspections, the more costly the certification. Thus expecting Kosher certification to cost what Organic certification costs is often a mistake as this is generally not an apples to apples comparison.
- Some people mistakenly think that every single ingredient used in a Kosher certified product requires a Kosher Certificate to be approved as kosher certified. This is not an accurate assumption in some cases as there are many ingredients that are generally recognized as Kosher. However, there are ingredients that definitely do require a Kosher Certificate. When a Kosher Certificate is required, and if for example, ingredients are being produced in the Amazon Rainforest or in Central Africa and neither the producer, nor the company dealing directly with the kosher certification agency is willing to pay for the the kosher certification to allow for the required Kosher certificate for this ingredient this can be an obvious deal breaker.
- There are a wide range of standards, competency ratings and levels of acceptance among the community of kosher certification organizations, which should be noted is a self- regulated industry. Consequently, there are some kosher certification organizations or individual rabbis whose Kosher certificate for an ingredient or product will not be accepted by other kosher certification organizations. If a company is sourcing an ingredient that requires a Kosher Certificate and if the ingredient or product is under the kosher certification of an agency that isn’t broadly accepted and a substitute ingredient or supplier is not available or acceptable to the company; these factors can cause significant issues when trying to move forward with Kosher certification.
- Some people assume that being Jewish provides an edge in the kosher certification process. In fact, this may present some unique obstacles, the main issue relating to the Passover holiday. A Jew, as relevant to Kosher certification, is defined as someone born of a Jewish mother or a person who has converted to Judaism via an Orthodox rabbinic court. According to Jewish Law a Jews is restricted on the Passover holiday from owning products or derivatives that originate from wheat, barley, oats, spelt, or rye. The Passover holiday is an 8-day period during the Spring season. It is also a common requirement in Kosher certification that companies that are wholly Jewish-owned not produce grain-based or derived products during the Passover holiday. In most cases, companies that don’t respect this requirement will not proceed with Kosher certification. However, there are some creative solutions, such as having a non-Jewish partner, and other possible solutions that fall under the general category of legal fictions. To be clear, there are hundreds of companies who have faced these issues and found ways of successfully resolving them to become kosher certified by a reliable agency it does take some flexibility to resolve this issue absent which it can be an obstacle towards obtaining Kosher certification.
- Animal food ingredients, whether from a land animal, fowl, or fish, are highly sensitive ingredients in kosher law. These ingredient often requires full- time rabbinic supervision during production or at a minimum a more intensive and thus costly inspection regimen. Due to the extra supervision and costs involved, getting kosher certification for a product containing such an ingredient may be cost prohibitive for some but not all companies.