December 20, 2010

Kosher Prices on the Eve of Rosh Hashanah

With the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) only weeks away, the Metropolitan Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty was already publicizing an extensive list of distribution points for holiday food for the Jewish poor, which only seems to increase with the ongoing recession. A prominent Jewish community leader was concerned that increased prices for the holiday food would also wreak havoc for those with large families and others suffering from a job loss or simply from an inability to cope with such prices. I reached out to many retailers who assured me that despite being forced to pay higher wholesale prices, they would make every effort to “hold the line.” One bakery told me that he was paying much higher prices for wheat than he did a year ago as a result of the increase in commodity prices but “would pretty much keep his prices the same.”

Typically, I hear these concerns on the eve of Passover, but this year it is very telling that the concern is so strong on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. I suspect that retailers know the true state of many of their customers better than anyone. They are aware of customers whose fortunes have turned or may have had a life-changing event in their family life. It is a time of year where there is an increase in charitable giving, compassion and understanding, which would suggest that this would not be lost on the retailers.

Many in the kosher industry tell me that “wise shoppers” will find a host of special and reduced prices, albeit that it may take a bit of organization and travel to come up with a package of good pricing.