Welch's Teams With Manischewitz In Battle Over Kosher Grape Juice

Apr 10, 2017
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Passover begins tonight. And Seders across the country are the last strongholds against big grape juice. Let us explain. Fruit of the vine is essential for observant Jews, says Joseph Berger of the New York Times. That means wine or grape juice for the kids.

JOSEPH BERGER: They have to drink wine or grape juice and make a blessing three times on the Sabbath and four times each of the Passover Seders.

CORNISH: That's a lot of grape juice, especially this time of year. When it comes to secular grape juice, Welch's has dominated the U.S. for decades, says Berger.

BERGER: Welch's is practically a synonym for grape juice in this country.

CORNISH: But when it comes to kosher grape juice, another company called Kedem owns the market. Now, as Berger recently wrote in the Times, Welch's wants in on that market, too. So Welch's has teamed up with Manischewitz, one of the biggest kosher food companies in the world, to take a bite out of Kedem's share.

Forty percent of all kosher products are sold during the weeks before Passover. Grapes by themselves are naturally kosher but not so with grape juice. So this year, Welch's got the most common kosher seal of approval from the Orthodox Union. And they tried to lure shoppers with some pretty steep discounts.

BERGER: You could have bought a - what? - I think a 64-ounce bottle of Welch's for 50 cents in some of the Orthodox markets the other day.

CORNISH: That's less than a penny an ounce. But Berger says the kosher certification and the low prices are not quite enough to get Orthodox Jews on board with Welch's - for now.

BERGER: The Orthodox are very concerned about observing the letter of the law. And they're still wary until they've had a chance to get accustomed to the wine. So it may take some time yet. Kedem is still by far the biggest seller.

CORNISH: That's Joseph Berger of The New York Times.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRAKE SONG, "PASSIONFRUIT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.