Now private equity owns the Manischewitz Company, famous for their Passover matzo and gefilte fish. Sankaty Advisors, part of the large private equity firm, Bain Capital, purchased the company. This deal comes just in time for Passover and may actually expand what Manizchewitz makes beyond just kosher food.
Manizchewitz has been a well know name in Jewish households for many years, but hasn’t enjoyed wide spread appeal or name recognition. With this acquisition, the company may get extra business from marketing their healthy, pure foods outside their Jewish following. Healthy is now mainstream and that’s what Manischewitz has been selling for years.
The new owners will revamp the company’s corporate strategy. Their first order of business is to redefine ‘kosher’ as healthy, high-quality option as opposed to a religious distinction. To be kosher means that the product is held up to “a very high standard,” according to the new interim chief executive, Mark Weinsten.
The Manischewitz Company was founded in 1888 as a small bakery specializing in matzo in Cincinnati. It quickly grew into the kosher food empire that it is today. By 1990, Manischewitz had 80 percent of the matzo market in the United States. Since then it has changed hands a few times but Sankaty has plans to hang onto it for a while and become “stewards of the brand.”
Under the new leadership the product line will be revamped to have a wider appeal. They have already started the process as recent advertisements have taken a secular approach to marketing by avoiding blatant religious themes. The chief rabbi for the company, Rabbi Yaakov Y. Horowitz feels positive about the new owners. He notes that even though the company is reaching out to a larger market, it will always hold a special place in the hearts of American Jews. “To a good number of American Jews-perhaps a large number of American Jews, those that are unaffiliated and Reform- Manischewitz is the last link to their religion, almost.”