As Kayco buys Manischewitz, some wonder: ‘Is the rise of a matzo-poly really kosher?’

Kosher food company Kayco bought its rival Manischewitz, igniting concerns about a matzo-poly.

August 6, 2019

Earlier this week, the kosher food company Kayco (full name: Kenover Marketing Corporation) bought its rival, the Manischewitz Company, in a deal that will have far-reaching impact on gefilte fish sales across the US.

According to The New York Times, the kosher community saw the deal “as the equivalent of General Motors acquiring Ford.” 

But not everyone’s saying mazel tov: Some critics fear the merger will make a matzo monopoly that drives prices of kosher food even higher.

Manischewitz is still an iconic kosher company…

But, although Manischewitz has set the standard for kosher food — which must adhere to Jewish dietary regulations — since 1888, the business has stumbled its way into this century.

After selling off its iconic wine brand in 1987, Manischewitz was forced to sell to a private equity company in 1990 (and has since changed hands several more times). 

But as one kosher kingpin falls, another rises

Unlike Manischewitz, Kayco — which has been family-owned since 1848 and made wine for the Emperor Franz Joseph of the Austro-Hungarian Empire — has grown by catering to the Orthodox community.

Kayco’s success started out with its Kedem wine label, but it has since expanded to encompass more than 150 brands.

By buying the Manischewitz brand, Kayco positions itself to dominate the $24B market for kosher food, which is expected to grow 11.5% by 2025.

But is the business a matzo-poly?

Since Kayco and Manischewitz are believed to control an estimated 50% of the kosher market, the merger has left some consumers worried the cost of certain kosher foods may rise.

Kosher customers have reason for concern: In 1991, Manischewitz was fined $1m by a federal judge for illegally fixing matzo prices (the company also paid out hundreds of thousands in consumer settlements).

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