"Kosher" beats "All Natural." Who knew?

American consumers, it seems, who made the "Kosher" label the most popular claim found on product labels in 2007, beating out "All Natural" and "No Additives or Preservatives," according to figures from Mintel's Global New Products Database, which monitors worldwide product innovation in consumer packaged goods markets.

This past year, 3,984 new kosher food products and 728 kosher beverages were launched, the company reported.

The kosher marketplace has been growing 10-15 percent over the last 15-20 years, according to Rabbi Eliyahu Safran, senior rabbinic coordinator at the Orthodox Union.

Americans spend $10.5 billion annually on kosher products, the Jerusalem Post reported.

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What is Kosher? Click here to find out.

Mintel reports that a growing demand for dairy- and meat-free products is the driving force behind market growth in the U.S. Moreover, food that is certified as kosher is also suitable for Muslims.

"It is a misconception to think kosher is sought out only by Jewish people and observant people," Safran said. "It begins there, but the kosher marketplace in last 25-30 years has grown to meet the needs of many others."

"In food, there is no 'Good Housekeeping' symbol, and in the minds of many, the kosher symbol represents another pair of eyes looking at the food," he said. "All the things that go into certifying a kosher product - consumers feel good about it, because not only the manufacturer but a third party oversees it."

Asked whether the perception that kosher food was healthier and safer than non-kosher food was true, Safran said that when it came to meat, it was.

"All the halachic (Jewish law) requirements create cleaner meat products," said Safran. "As far as the rest of the products, we don't make the claim it's cleaner or healthier."

"All Natural" was the second most frequent claim made on food products launched in the U.S. this year, appearing on 2,023 products. It ranked fourth for beverages, being used on 405 items.