May 4, 2009

Recession Helps Stabilize Meat Supply but Many Agri Stops Still Without Kosher Meat

New York…The shortage of glatt kosher meat in the US may be over but it has certainly changed the landscape of kosher meat since the bankruptcy of Agriprocessor, a survey shows. Major markets have more than replaced the meat although some still complain of inconsistencies in the delivery of all types of meat and provisions. Customers too in many markets complain that they cannot always get the products they want on a given day. The recession, say some industry officials, has made a big difference in the demand for beef products as an increasing number of people are turning to poultry and fish. Many caterers say that they have seen a dramatic shift away from beef and veal to poultry products. This is true even for the pricier affairs, they say. Kashrus officials say that they are not aware of any major shortages anywhere in the country of either poultry or beef although one industry official estimated that at least 50-75 stores that once carried Agri products no longer carry kosher meat, mostly in small kosher markets around the country. Some Jews have already noted in blogs that they are traveling long distances to buy the kosher meat or in at least one case ordering on-line. The demand for poultry has been rising, which is being met by smaller slaughterhouses (particularly serving the Chasidic population), increased production at Empire Poultry and continued slaughter of poultry at the Agri plant in Postville, the only slaughter that is being done there under the management of a court appointed receiver. Even customers are finding an ample supply of meat in the larger kosher markets, they are probably paying as much as 25% - 30% more than they did a year ago, mostly as a result of the demise of Agri. While the nation seems to have recovered from the aftershocks of the events in Postville, it is certainly a changed landscape, say most kosher food industry officials.