Kosher meat shortage persists

Closing of packing house sending prices higher, too


Central Ohio Jews and others who keep kosher are dealing with a
nationwide shortage of kosher meat since the closing of the largest
kosher meatpacking company in the nation, local rabbis said.

The meat selection has suffered at the Kroger store at 3675 E.
Broad St. in Whitehall, the only market selling fresh-cut kosher meat
in the city, said Rabbis William Goldberg and Areyah Kaltmann.

Even stores that sell packaged kosher meat have taken a hit, said
Kaltmann, executive director of the Schottenstein Chabad House in

“You can’t get the selection you could before this whole incident occurred,” he said.

The Kroger in Whitehall has been out of kosher items here and there but is now fully stocked, spokeswoman Beth Wilkin said.

Kosher shoppers can plan on paying more in the future. The new
supplier, Alle Processing in Maspeth, N.Y., has indicated that it will
raise prices because of the shortage. It is unclear when the prices
will rise or by how much, Wilkin said.

Agriprocessors Inc. collapsed after nearly 400 workers were arrested
in an immigration raid in May at the company’s slaughterhouse in
Postville, Iowa.

Only a handful of processors nationwide slaughter animals according
to Jewish law and under the supervision of rabbis. Other processors
have been swamped with orders and either are boosting the amount of
meat they produce or refusing to take new clients. Some consumers are
paying up to 40 percent more for the same meat. Markets and butchers
say they can’t get certain cuts of beef for their customers, largely
Orthodox Jews, and some have had to rearrange what they do have to fill
display shelves.

“Agriprocessors was just so big,” Kaltmann said. “America wasn’t ready for this.”

The shortage was obvious during his trip to New York last week, he
said. It seems that plenty of chicken is available, but other meats are
much harder to find.

Sometimes, a family has to shop at several stores or even travel out
of town to complete their kosher meals, said Goldberg, administrator of
the Vaad Ho-ir of Columbus, a nonprofit organization that oversees
kosher offerings in the area.

After the Bexley Kosher Market closed in March, the Whitehall Kroger stepped in to offer a full-service kosher market.

Goldberg is hoping that other processors can pick up the slack, not
only for Jewish families, but for all people who eat kosher.

Non-Jews, particularly Muslims, use kosher markets, too, Goldberg
said. Muslims’ dietary laws, called halal, are akin to kosher
requirements. Rabbi Howard Zack of Congregation Torat Emet in Bexley
estimated that about 750 Jewish families alone in the Columbus area buy
kosher meat.

“I don’t think people are starving,” he said, but “it’s definitely taking its toll.”

Information from the Associated Press was included in this story.