Following the publication of the article, the fruit-roll trend started to build momentum, only Joray wasn’t in on the action. Joray had been producing private label fruit rolls for a brand called A. Sahadi, which had been bought by Knox gelatin, which decided to make the fruit leather on their own. Knox was soon purchased by Lipton, which licensed the Sunkist name to market those fruit rolls.
That was terrible news for Joray. When Sunkist came out, Joray lost all of their grocery store accounts almost instantly. Even though they had created the snack, the small family-run business struggled to go neck-and-neck with a major corporation. “You can’t compete against a national company with 40 items when you have just one,” says Ray.
To stay in business, the Shalhoubs quickly rethought who they should be selling their product to. “I was talking to my dad and I was like, ‘Dad, look, it’s a traditional Middle Eastern treat for Arab people, but Arabs aren’t a growing population,’” says Ray. “‘We have to do something different.’” By his assessment, the growing populations were Jewish and Hispanic. Ultimately, they went after kosher business because of some cultural and geographical commonality with the Arab population. A friend introduced the Shalhoubs to Kof-K Kosher Supervision, then a budding certifier of kosher foods, now an international powerhouse whose clients include Pepsi and ConAgra. “We were one of their first accounts and we’ve been with them since 1977,” says Ray.