As the market for kosher food expands worldwide, traditional Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union are seeing new products such as specialty cheeses and cakes hit the shelves, all while local companies cater to demand abroad.

In the former republic of Armenia, where the Jewish population numbers just a few hundred people, ventures that began in 2003 with the export of kosher-certified aluminum foil have expanded to include canned vegetables, beer and lemonade destined for Israel, France and the United States; and pomegranate wine, natural juices, flavored vodkas and fruit jam for local consumption.

According to the Yerevan-based Rabbi Gersh Meir Burshtein, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary and the country’s chief rabbi, the revamping of a local cheese factory – which has produced small quantities of strictly-kosher cheeses under the rabbi’s supervision for the past eight years – will allow its entire product line to conform to the kosher standard known as chalav yisrael. He predicted that kosher exports from Armenia would further expand in coming years.

Elsewhere, kosher dairy products from Moscow are giving consumers more choices, such as in S. Petersburg, where shoppers can now find a line of products under the “Tevye the Milkman” label. Produced under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate of Russia, the offerings include strictly-kosher milk, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, miniature cheesecakes and other sweets.