However, it is in fact demand for kosher products in the US, Europe and Israel that is driving this area of opportunity for globally operating certifiers. NutraIngredients-USA spoke to Steve Sichel, director of development for Star-K Kosher Certification, at SupplySide West in Las Vegas. "Our largest growth area for new business is China and India," said Sichel. "And because of that we have offices there." With headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, the firm's Asia offices are in Shanghai and Mumbai. In line with the certification procedures, Star-K has a full-time rabbi on hand in India, as well as others that commute from Australia to China. The kosher market is growing at a 15 percent annual rate, according to Sichel, who added this is much stronger than growth in the mainstream food and food ingredients markets, where growth typically stands at around 4 percent. "What drives the growth is that so many products in Canada, the US and Western Europe are manufacturing kosher products," said Sichel. Ingredients manufacturers looking to sell to finished product formulators also have to go through the certification process. In the US market alone, consumers spend approximately $165b a year on kosher products. There are 90,000 koshers sku's in the US, with approximately 300,000 kosher ingredients behind these. According to Sichel, Star-K has also witnessed a significant growth in demand for the dietary supplement market, where kosher certification is seen to add value on product labels. Of the consumers buying kosher goods, it is estimated approximately 45 percent are Jewish, while Muslims make up the second largest market at 20 percent. The reason for this is that the market for Halal certification for Muslim consumers in the US is not as developed, and Muslims are permitted by their faith to consume kosher goods when Halal ones are not available. Sichel said Star-K is number two in terms of global presence in the kosher certification industry. Kosher products are also of interest to Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists, vegetarians, and people with food allergies. The labeling system clearly identifies whether it contains dairy or meat products, which appeals to vegetarian and food-allergic consumers. Many people are also drawn to kosher products because they believe they are produced in cleaner environments.