March 4, 2013

Why Kosher Consumers Worry So Much

The calls were coming in fast and furious. “Could it be that there will not be enough kosher poultry for Passover?” “Did you hear that Empire shut down for a day?” When all the facts were finally gathered, it was nothing more than a perceived temporary shortage due to a problem with broken tendons, as a KosherToday investigation revealed. So I decided to look at some articles I read recently and maybe ring the alarm bells early and not wait for the panic to set in.  

For example, the Associated Press reported that "years of drought are reshaping the U.S. beef industry with feedlots and a major meatpacking plant closing because there are too few cattle left in the United States to support them. Some feedlots in major cattle-producing states have already been dismantled, and others are sitting empty. Operators say they don’t expect a recovery anytime soon, with high feed prices, much of the country still in drought and a long time needed to rebuild herds ... For consumers, the impact will be seen in grocery and restaurant bills as a smaller meat supply means higher prices." So are we looking at incredibly higher prices for kosher beef?

And if that wasn’t enough, a WeiserMazars 2012 U.S. Food & Beverage Industry Study noted: “With food prices forecast to move 3% to 4% higher this year, it is not surprising that the major concern among food and beverage companies surveyed was the cost of goods,” stated Brian Todd, President & CEO of The Food Institute.  “Inflation almost entirely offset sales increases last year at grocery stores, with the Food Institute noting that sales in the sector increased less than 1% last year after inflation was taken into account, based on the association’s exclusive pricing indices.” 

Just as I was about to panic, I recalled that somehow I had read about this before, maybe 10 or 12 years ago. Well, I guess, I’ll go back to worrying about kosher chickens, but even that in a free market society somehow found a way to sort itself out.