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Whole Foods gets kosher

September 13, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

The kosher chicken war is on: Whole Foods Market says it is launching a line of certified kosher, antibiotic-free chicken in stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties in time for the Jewish holy day of Rosh Hashana, which starts at sundown Friday.

Trader Joe's and some Ralphs and Albertsons stores also carry kosher poultry, which must be slaughtered and prepared according to Jewish law under the supervision of rabbinical authorities.

"Customer demand has really driven our focus in seeking out a line of certified kosher poultry," said Theo Weening, global meat buyer for Whole Foods Market Inc.

The chicken line is provided by Kosher Valley, a new brand from Hain Celestial Group Inc., and certified by Rabbi Yechiel Babad and the Orthodox Union.

Sales of kosher products grew to $12.5 billion in 2008, up 41% from 2003, according to market research firm Mintel International in Chicago. The growth has been driven by a rising number of observant Jews and of non-Jews who perceive the kosher designation as a stamp of quality.

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