Passover 2012 Season Underway as Retailers Cope With Many New Challenges

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The Kosher for Passover products that have been arriving over the last few weeks by the truckloads are finally being placed on shelves as the Passover season is officially underway.

Passover begins on the eve of Friday April 6th and ends on the evening of Saturday April 14th. In a survey of nearly a dozen retailers and distributors, KosherToday found that the market faces several new and not so new challenges this holiday season. One retailer said that he was “literally bombarded with many new products with promises that the items would spell profits, but in the end I simply couldn’t add shelf space and opted to play it safe with the traditional items.” He was already making room for a growing demand for the hand-made Shmurah Matzoh which he was selling for $21.99 lb. In the past two years, he had expanded his Passover aisle to accommodate the bulky machine matzoh boxes from such brands as Yehuda and Osem, not to speak of Manischewitz and Streit’s.

Another retailer said that a local rabbi opined that this year would be the “year of the snack foods,” reasoning that the weekday Chol Hamoed (interim days that fall this year Monday to Thursday) would see many more people taking trips with their families. Using the previous year as a guide, said the retailer, is not fool-proof since the calendar often dictates how products sell. “When you have a 3-day (meaning the two days of Passover plus a Shabbat) it completely changes the dynamics of shopping.” For many purveyors, the Passover market is divided between retail (with significant increases this year in the number of supermarkets expanding their Passover aisles), institutional (namely the flourishing Passover hotel business) and the ever-growing take-out business.

 In South Florida, several local retailers were already taking orders for their take-out items from the thousands who will spend their Passover here. In California, Judith International, which caters for the Hillel at UCLA is offering a Passover menu for $60 (Chabad $50) that includes everything from Hors D›Oeuvres to Desserts. A Seder plate for 10 will set you back $25. A Long Island family that had been spending their Passovers in the past in a hotel hired a chef, mashgiach, a kitchen help and two waiters for 14 people at a cost of $4500 for the two Seders excluding food.

Last year, many consumers complained of spot shortages of many items, including Matzoh, and of near-empty shelves during Passover in one major supermarket. The manager of the store admitted to the rabbi that he “only stocked the shelves once and did not replenish the items.” The rabbi said that the manager seemed “petrified about Passover food that is left over after the holiday.”

Report by KosherToday.com

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