NEW YORK — A near-panic amongst consumers that appeared to set-in with reports that there might be a shortage of kosher poultry this coming Passover season (which begins on the eve of March 25th), appears to have been premature and contrary to the number of chickens that will actually be slaughtered, a KosherToday investigation revealed.
The concern by consumers seemed to have been triggered by media reports that the Empire Kosher plant in Mifflintown PA had shut down for at least one day last week due to a shortage of chickens that qualified for kosher slaughter as a result of a disproportionate number of birds with broken tendons that render the birds unfit for kosher slaughter. Other kosher poultry producers have also noticed an uptick in the number of birds with broken tendons but apparently nowhere near the number found at Empire and none had experienced any major disruption of production.
Kosher food sources say that despite some reports of significantly higher prices (as much as 20%) at some locations, there will be an ample supply of chickens for the holiday. Empire Kosher is said to have resumed production today and the market will also quickly benefit from the re-emergence of Mehadrin Poultry in Birdsboro PA which closed its doors in July 2012. A group of investors is said to have funded the reopening of the plant which industry sources may add as much as 35,000 kosher birds a day.
In addition to certification by the Orthodox Union (OU), Mehadrin is certified by the Central Rabbinical Congress, associated with the Satmar group in Williamsburg. Sources also expect an increase in production by Marvid Poultry, a Montreal-based kosher poultry company that exports to the US, as well as KJ Poultry (Upstate New York) and AgriStar (Postville IA). “If my math is correct,” said a leading expert in kosher poultry, “there will be even more supply than last year.” He admitted, however, that as “things get sorted out, the customer in many instances will be faced with higher prices.” He said that prices had already been higher due to increased commodity prices for feed.Photo courtesy of Empire Kosher