August 18, 2020

Limits of Air Travel Sharply Cut into Kosher Commerce

New York…Yaakov had been scheduled to travel to South Africa to view a plant that would possibly produce various kosher products for his company. Because of the global pandemic, a meeting that was to take place six months ago, has still not taken place. “Air travel is the essence of my business,” he said. If I can’t travel to check out new sourcing, it sets back our program of launching new products, which are so vital to our business.” Gabriel, a food broker, complained that he hasn’t been to see many of his customers in Florida and Midwest. He says that several Zoom sessions he had with potential buyers did not do nearly as well for him as to when he would visit them personally. These stories repeat themselves throughout the kosher food industry. With a decision pending as to when Kosherfest will take place, Gabriel feels as if he is stymied. “Doing my job remotely has resulted in a 40% drop in sales,” he says. He resigned to perhaps continue this way until mid-2021. Many of the companies Kosher Today spoke to are not permitting their employees to fly for the remainder of the year.

Companies are urging their key salespeople and others to avoid air travel, and to use Zoom instead. They are also pushing their sales staff to step up their communications with companies. As much as many have resorted to more frequent emails and occasional Zoom conferences, they are quick to say that it is simply “not the same.” Many companies were also affected by the inability of mashgichim, kosher food supervisors to travel to factories in different parts of the world. Many kosher companies are predicting that a return to “normalcy” will not happen until the Spring of 2021.