In yet another sign of how popular kosher products have become, a symposium on kosher food production and certification recently took place in what may seem a most unlikely location: Hawaii.
This development has an interesting background. The State Department of Agriculture has long been pondering what new avenues may be available to help a flagging industry. Hawaii, a beautiful state blessed with rich volcanic soil, had long been a lush garden of plentiful and varied produce. For a variety of reasons, though, the past years have seen a gradual slowdown and loss of market share. In an effort to change this, the department reached out to the kosher certification industry for direction on ways to penetrate and better participate in the global kosher market. The Agriculture Department had heard that this particular segment of the food market is burgeoning, consistently registering growth – even in a slowing economy. So it invited representatives of the KSA, an internationally recognized certification agency based in Los Angeles, to help in the effort.
Hideki Yamane, a coordinator and facilitator with the state agency, planned two sessions. The first, in the city of Hilo, was attended by a cross-section of the local food producers. Their fields ranged from beef and poultry production to beekeeping. Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon, founder of KSA, and Rabbi Yechezkel Auerbach, a senior kashrus consultant with KSA, offered presentations. The second symposium was held at the facility of the free-trade zone in Honolulu. The well-attended sessions by forward-looking professionals sought information and direction in this new opportunity.
Also present were representatives of local kosher interests, including Chabad rabbis Itchel Krasnjansky of Honolulu and Avremel Chazanow of Kona. Both address and support efforts in their communities to facilitate kosher supervision and observance on the local level. Rabbi Reuven Nathanson, a longtime senior field representative for the Orthodox Union, also attended – adding his years of experience to the lively sessions.