October 20, 2021

Kosher Grocers Challenged by Shortages and Soaring Prices

Brooklyn, NY…The holidays may be over but kosher retailers are reeling from ongoing shortages and soaring prices, especially for meat and poultry. A Flatbush takeout store couldn’t believe his eyes when a bill for a prime cut went from $11 lb. to more than $19 lb. in just a short two-week period. Another supermarket complained that he was only able to get “half of the chickens I normally keep in stock.” Food prices in general have reached their highest level in a decade as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on businesses left reeling from a labor shortage and issues within the supply chain.

Many kosher independent grocers said they had many shortages over the holidays due to increased demand and the inability to have enough stock to restock shelves. One store told Kosher Today that he “ran out of Coca Cola products in the early days of Sukkot and could not get a shipment until well after the holidays, frustrating my customers.”

The sharply higher prices seem to be a worldwide trend. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, vegetable oil saw the highest increase at 60% compared to the previous year and up by 1.2% from just the previous month. Cereal prices saw the second-largest jump in food prices, rising 27.3% from the same month last year, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported seeing a 3% increase in its Consumer Price Index, which measures grocery prices, according to data from August. Over the course of 12 months, the price for all household and grocery products increased by 5.3%.

According to many in the kosher food industry the shortages and price increases come at a time of increasing demand due to population growth and “growing pantries” defined by one distributor as simply buying more.