PLASTIC STORAGE CONTAINERS GO KOSHER AT SHOPRITE

CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- Supermarket of Cherry Hill here will roll out to its Garden State Pavilion store a line of plastic food containers specifically for the Jewish community, according to Gershon Schwartz, the unit's supervising mashgiach (a trusted advisor who oversees that kosher provisions are met).The line, comprised of six container sets, is branded with an ERC label, "ethnically and religiously

CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- Supermarket of Cherry Hill here will roll out to its Garden State Pavilion store a line of plastic food containers specifically for the Jewish community, according to Gershon Schwartz, the unit's supervising mashgiach (a trusted advisor who oversees that kosher provisions are met).

The line, comprised of six container sets, is branded with an ERC label, "ethnically and religiously compliant." The containers are free from animal renderings that are traditionally used to give plastic its unique characteristics, said Del Riley, executive vice president of Premier Technologies Group Inc., the holding company of manufacturer Premier Classic Products, Lancaster, Pa.

Instead, a vegetable derivative such as coconut oil replaces the rendered animal fat. This replacement completely eliminates any small chance of renderings that can potentially be transferred from the plastic onto food when heated in the microwave, according to PTGI President Manny Volk.

An in-house ERC group is the certifying body for Premier Classic Products, according to Riley.

"Any package that doesn't contain animal byproducts is fantastic," said Schwartz. The containers also solve a problem for the Jewish community scrambling to find paper products that do not contain cornstarch during Passover. "People are aware of packaging and what they contain," Schwartz noted.

The container sets will carry a suggested retail price range from $5.99 for a three-piece round set to $44.95 for a 52-piece household set. There are two other three-piece sets (bowls for $7.50 and cylinders for $8.99), a 21-piece set ($19.95) and a 37-piece set ($34.95).

This particular ShopRite has a store-within-a-store format called "The Kosher Experience." It merchandises thousands of kosher grocery, frozen, seafood and butcher items for its customers, said Schwartz. Approximately 50 more ShopRites will roll out the plasticware on a seasonal basis for Passover, according to Riley.

The line tested successfully at Giant Food Stores, Carlisle, Pa., a division of Ahold USA, Chantilly, Va., Riley said, where, for the 2000 Passover season, "there was a 30% response in three days."

Plans are under way to expand the line to other retailers including Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., and Giant Food, Landover, Md., another division of Ahold USA.

Volk expects to include plates, forks, knives and cups in an expansion of the line. These products also reach out to health-conscious and vegetarian customers and the Muslim community, he said. "It will be available in health food stores, because there's a great concern with health food people and vegetarians."