Butchers warn of Pesach kosher meat crisis sparked by coronavirus

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Butchers warn of Pesach kosher meat crisis sparked by coronavirus

Suppliers “working overtime” to meet unprecedented demand in the wake of cancelled Passover trips to Israel.

Kosher butchers are “working overtime” to meet unprecedented demand for kosher meat in the wake of cancelled Pesach trips to Israel.

Sarah Mann Yeager of Louis Mann & Son told Jewish News butchers are “already stretched to capacity on Passover”, and foresees a 20% increase in demand because of how the coronavirus epidemic has impacted travel plans.

“We will do our best to meet demand, so long as there are no problems in supply.”

“We are having to work overtime, bring in extra staff, and there are added pressures to the market due to the lockdown,” she told Jewish News.

However, she stressed that she “cannot make guarantees” and that they are the mercy of suppliers, who could themselves have problems due to epidemic.

“There are only a finite number of kosher abattoirs,” she told Jewish News. “If one person catches the virus, it could have severe consequences.”

She also pointed to difficult timings of Passover this year.

Passover, which will run from April 8 to 16, is immediately followed by a Shabbat.

On top of this, there is no shechita during chol hamoed, which could depress supplies further.

Tamir Haziza, the director of the butcher Menachem’s in Golders Green, is also “concerned” and has had to readjust his supply as “basically everyone is staying.”

During the festive period, demand is already increasing dramatically, but he is expecting demand to increase threefold over the festive period

“We are buying more meat every day to try to make sure people get what they want,” he told Jewish News.

Yossi Menachem said their butcher is “100% sure” they can meet the demand. They will be koshering his butcher for Pesach on Sunday and Monday, and will double and then triple the supply following this.

“There is increased pressure but we have no choice,” he told Jewish News.

Both butchers urged customers not to do their shopping last minute.

“I don’t want people to be disappointed. I encourage people to do their shopping ASAP,” Haziza said.

Sarah Mann Yeager encouraged customers to “get moving as soon as possible” but also entreated them “to behave in a sensible manner” and “not to panic buy.”

Menachem’s emphasised the restricted supply for speciality cuts, with the demand for pickled tongue and duck likely to be overstretched. They also urged people “to clear their freezer” and “order meat a few weeks earlier”, especially if they are after the “best cuts”, such as brisket and lamb.

Meanwhile, Chezky Trovsky from the kosher supermarket Hadar is increasing supply by 50% to meet the expected demand.

However, the potential for a lucrative festival period also carries the risk of oversupplying.

“Pesach is already the riskiest time of the year,” he told Jewish News.

“You can’t sell Pesach products afterwards, so you have to be very careful. Otherwise, it could have a very bad effect on your business.”

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