August 8, 2011

Hushed Discussion about Possible Shortages on Rosh Hashanah

 New York…Spot shortages have become commonplace in the kosher marketplace in recent years, particularly during the Passover season. Consumers will remember such well-covered shortages as margarine, Barton’s chocolates, Tam Tam’s and even ketchup. Some categories of meat have also been in short supply in some markets in recent years. The shortages are usually a result of a bad crop (such as happened with tomatoes and ketchup last Passover), non-production, or simply demand outpacing supply. But Passover is not the only season that at least the hushed discussions take place behind closed doors at some purveyors and distributors. For example, there is some question this year whether there will be enough meat to go around before Rosh Hashanah, not all types of meats but perhaps a certain cut of steak or flanken. No one is really sure, as in many cases it is pure speculation by some purveyor. If there is a meat shortage this year, say the industry sources, it may very well be because of soaring demand. Salmonella scares with some major non-kosher brands have attracted many non-kosher consumers to the kosher deli stands in significant numbers. Some stores told Kosher Today, the number of non-kosher customers at their kosher counters may be as high as 25%. There is, of course, natural growth in the Orthodox community, where locales like Monsey and Lakewood continue to grow by as much as 5% - 10% a year. Some distributors are taking steps to assure that the meat shortages are dealt with by already now stocking the meat in large freezers. One well-known kosher source said: “National shortages are rare. They are sporadic at best. Even Matzoh was short in a few markets and in abundant supply in others.”