- Manischewitz, one of America's largest manufacturers of specialty kosher foods with a 126 year history, announced that it has secured a strategic investment from Sankaty Advisors, the independently-managed credit affiliate of Bain Capital, LLC and one of the world's leading private managers of fixed income and credit instruments.
- The official announcement came on Tuesday, just one week before the Passover holiday when the demand for Manischewitz matzo, macaroons, and other specialty products are at their peak.
- The strategy that the new owner is expected to apply is promoting “kosher” as a quality-control designation to appeal to a market beyond the current one that observes religious dietary laws.
Though Manischewitz started out as a family-owned business, it hasn't been so for years. In 1990 it was sold by a grandson of the founder to Kohlberg & Company, a private equity firm. In 1998 it was sold again and took on the name the R.A.B. Food Group. Ten years later, after a new investment from Philip A. Falcone’s hedge fund, Harbinger Capital Partners, it reverted back to the Manischewitz name. And now it wants to leverage the brand's kosher identity as a a mark of quality. It also seems that Manischewitz is also trying to keep up with general food trends by offering more gluten-free products.
“It’s a pretty powerful certification to be kosher, because it means you are holding your product to a very high standard,” Mark Weinsten, the newly appointed interim chief executive of Manischewitz, who is also a senior managing director at FTI Consulting, said.
Indeed, three years ago, the New York Times featured an article about the marketing appeal of kosher that cited market research that found only 15% of kosher consumers say they look for the kosher label for religious reasons. Far more, 62% consider the label a sign of better quality, and 51% said they regard it as preferable for “general healthfulness.” That fits with the revelations of Kosher Nation, which explains the figures behind major brands investing in whatever it takes to qualify as kosher, even kosher for Passover. Given that, it makes sense for a brand to leverage its already strong kosher identity into a selling point for the mainstream market.