New York…The homestretch before the Passover holiday is underway as the number of shopping days dwindles to a precious few. Industry sources say strong early sales may propel sales to a 10% - 12% increase over 2010. In the past week, preparations for the holiday went into high gear all over the world, most notably Israel and the US, the two largest markets for kosher. Supermarkets in Israel are offering seemingly outrageous deals in an attempt to woo consumers. Long a source of angst amongst local makolet owners, major low-cost supermarket chains such as Rami Levi and Supersol are going head-to-head, slashing prices on basic Passover food items such as chicken soup, gefilte fish, and matzoh balls. Additionally, Rami Levi announced plans to sell chicken at a mere shekel per kilo (about 13 cents a pound), while Shufersal will be offering 50% off on all fresh and frozen fish. Indeed, despite a global rise in food costs, one could still say that many Israeli consumers have it made this Passover season.
In contrast, Kosher for Passover food items in the US have mostly increased although the level of increase and the availability of discounts varies from store to store. Retailers across the country seemed more aggressive than in past years in offering discounts in almost every category. Many supermarkets offered free Matzoh as their loss leader. At Acme, which is part of SuperValu, the offer was for a free 5 lb. box of matzoh with a minimum purchase of $50. Many of the SuperValu stores highlighted some of the new products including Yehuda Gluten Free Matzo Squares, Lipton Matzo Ball Soup Mixes, Frito Lay Passover Potato Chips, Manischewitz Pie Shells, many items from Lieber’s such as Marinara or Pizza Sauces and Gluten Free Cake Mixes. There was also the emphasis on Fine Foods from Israel, including Osem Cakes, Soup Mixes, Cucumbers and Halutza Olives, kids favorites Bissli and Bamba.
Handmade shmurah matzah appeared to have increased only slightly with prices averaging at about $20.50 with some stores selling the Matzoh for as low as $17.50 and as high as $25.50 in markets outside of New York. Price generally increased by 5% over last year and over 20% from five years ago. Despite strong competition in all the major kosher markets, stores that featured separate stores for Passover were favorites with many kosher consumers. Lara Gordon, a mother of four, likes a store that is exclusively Passover. “It makes it so much easier to shop when you know the whole store is just Passover foods.” Mountain Fruit on Avenue M in Brooklyn was one of those stores. Aron’s Kissena Farms in Queens put his separate Passover store in a tent in a parking lot.