Patrick Bruha

Patrick Bruha

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Kosher Food Market In Brazil

Patrick Bruha

Patrick Bruha

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Kosher is the description given to food that receives special treatment, in order to comply with the Jewish religion and its rules on food. They follow the Jewish laws of kashrut, which specify, for all stages of the process, how Jewish food is to be prepared. In this article, we will look at the Kosher food market in Brazil.

As of 2010, there were around 107,000 Jews in Brazil, representing a share of just 0.06% of the Brazil’s population. The largest concentration of Jews are located in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, meaning there is more supply and demand in these areas for the Kosher food market. Despite Kosher food usually being consumed only by Jewish people, muslims, adventists and others looking for alternative healthy and high-quality products are among those who are now purchasing Kosher food products.

How to Kosher in Brazil

The slaughtering ritual of the animal intended for Kosher food should provoke an instant and painless death with the use of a special knife, the chalaf. A rabbi will then examine the internal organs of the slaughtered animal. The fronts are deboned in a process completely separated from the deboning of the backs due to the sciatic nerve, forbidden in the Jewish diet.

The main objective of the slaughtering ritual is to eliminate the maximum quantity of blood through intense bleeding and immersion of the meat in water for 30 minutes, followed by one hour of dry salting, followed by three water immersion sessions, each lasting one hour.

All cloven-hoofed animals, commercial poultry and fish with scales and fins are animals which can be turned into Kosher food.

Brazilian laws for slaughtering animals demands the stunning of the animal before slaughter. Despite this, religious slaughter without stunning the animal is allowed in Brazil but only for companies that will allocate the meat for export or consumption by religious communities. Even so, specific methods are required in order to minimize the animal’s suffering and distress.

Certifying the Kosher quality

The Kosher meat certification is done by a team of rabbis, who make a visit to the slaughterhouse and then apply a Kosher certificate to a volume of products for a given period. For the certification procedure the manufacturing process and the ingredients contained in the products used in the slaughter are analysed. Besides that, the relationship between the slaughterhouse and the Jewish entity should be fully transparent to avoid cancellation of the certification.

In Brazil, BDK is the largest supervisor in this market. Every month in Brazil, around 30 facilities are visited by rabbis. After receiving the Kosher certification, the lot in which the product was produced is added to a list on BDK’s website. Over nine years, BDK has already granted certifications for more than 3,000 products.

Market for Kosher food in Brazil

The commercialization of Kosher food in Brazil was boosted by Jewish immigration, especially since the 1980s. Over 2,500 certified items enter the Brazilian market every year. This increase in demand is due to non-jewish people opting for these certified products. These vary from adventists and muslims - who also can not eat certain types of food - to other non-religious people, who simply want food of a higher quality, or are lactose intolerant as Kosher food may not have been in touch with milk or any of its derivatives.

To meet this growing demand for Kosher products, some supermarkets and other food companies offer a number and variety of Kosher products. These may include chocolate, cereals, juices, breads and pastas all certified as Kosher. Kosher cutlery and other Kosher accessories are also finding their way into the Brazilian market.

The largest importer of Brazilian Kosher meat is Israel, where 41% of the Jewish population in the world is concentrated. Israel imported 17,100 tons of processed and Kosher beef from Brazil, which generated a revenue of almost USD 84 million in 2013.

Compared to the regular food market, Kosher products represent a very small share and does not justify large investments from companies. Despite this it is a good option to bet on these niches in order to differentiate a company in the market. This is especially valid for small and medium sized companies.

The normal process of the slaughter of animals allows a count of 120 to 200 animals per hour, while the Kosher process allows from 70 to 80 animals per hour.

Where to buy

The Mehadrin Slaughterhouse and Butchery is Brazil’s oldest company selling Kosher products and began operating in 1976. Currently, the company sells cattle, poultry and sheep. It has stores in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The Livenn brand, property of the Kosher Express company is another slaughterhouse in the Brazilian Kosher food market. These two major brands meet a demand of approximately 140 tons per month. Other slaughterhouses that prepare Kosher food in Brazil are JBS, Marfrig, Minerva and Frisa.

Most of the larger supermarket chains have some Kosher products available in their stores, but there are some stores that specialize in selling only Kosher products. These are located generally in higher-income neighbourhoods in the larger cities, where Jews are most commonly located.

The cities where most Kosher food is consumed are:

  • São Paulo
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Recife
  • Porto Alegre