A mega kosher supermarket of 80,000 square feet would be news anywhere in the world but especially for a community that has grown from some 5,000 kosher observant Jews in 2000 to well over 20,000. The Jews, mostly of Sephardic descent, enjoy living in a “duty-free” zone. Jay Buchsbaum, senior executive of Kedem who participated in the opening ceremonies a week ago could not believe the size and variety of products from all over the world that are displayed at the new “Super-K” store. Says Buchsbaum: “Because of the “free” zone, a Panamanian Jew can buy kosher wine for about the same price as Jews would in Chicago or within a dollar of a shopper in Lakewood.” The Zakai family, which owns the supermarket, has been in the grocery business since 1907.

Super-K has its own slaughtering facility for fowl in the supermarket complex which is in a large mall.  Customers can literally be part of the shechita process with an extensive selection of imported beef nearby. Other features of the new mega supermarket include a bakery which does baking on premises, two restaurants, a play area for children while parents’ shop. According to Buchsbaum, Kosher-K has the best selection of kosher wines outside of New York. It has its own bank and a pharmacy, as well as a huge section of housewares.

Many Jews who live in Panama are refugees from Venezuela who were forced to flee with the changed political and economic climate. In addition to Panama, kosher has expanded in many other Latin American countries.