February 22, 2016

Say it’s Not So, Say Kosher Consumers – Is Fairway in Trouble?

New York - It wasn’t too long ago that Fairway Market was positioning itself as a major kosher destination. Several of its stores very much looked like a kosher store within a store (under Kof-K certification and Rabbi Avrohom Marmorstein) with quality meats, its own bakery and even grab n go and catering divisions. It was for many a well-kept secret that Debbie, a Marine Park resident, says combined the best of any kosher store, great pricing and even a Whole Foods feel. “There isn’t anything I couldn’t get here, particularly their quality organic chickens and I loved their freshly ground coffee,” she said. Now there is concern that the debt-ridden Fairway Market may default even before Passover with its ultimate fate uncertain. Many kosher food industry experts were surprised at the possible threat saying that as recently as two years ago, Fairway looked like the fastest expanding chain in the New York-New Jersey area with a special focus on kosher. But competition from the discounters like Costco and other chains like Whole Foods seemed to put a damper on those plans. Although it is said to have done a hefty kosher business, it never really attracted kosher consumers from some of the core Jewish communities, which the experts blame on the significant inroads that were made by the growing number of kosher independents.   The 80-year-old supermarket may yet find a way to continue, particularly if they manage to raise the cash, but to shoppers like Debbie, even the buzz about Fairway’s future is discerning. The 15-store supermarket chain has accrued $267 million in debt — and is struggling with declining sales. Revenue declined by 7 percent in the three months ended Dec. 27, to $191.6 million, from a year-earlier period.