With Agriprocessors being shut down for an undisclosed length of time, the entire kosher community across the country is bracing for a kosher beef shortage.
Sampo Distributors, one of Pittsburgh’s biggest kosher meat providers, says that shortages in the kosher meat market are not uncommon and that people will just have to wait this one out.
“The kosher food business goes through phases,” said Rochel Shlomo, co-owner of Sampo Distributors. “There is a period where there is no brisket, a period where there isn’t something else, and right now it’s across the board.”
With the closing of Agriprocessors, Shlomo switched her business from to Alle Packing, which has three factories nationwide. In the time of a big meat shortage, it didn’t help when one of the three factories caught fire, temporarily suspending production.
Shlomo said that right now high-end cuts of meat are available just about anytime. Meats like brisket and rib eyes, which are the more expensive cuts, are readily available for consumers.
“I have no trouble getting briskets or rib eyes,” she said. “But cheaper pot roasts or shoulder roasts are harder to get because they are cheaper.”
She added that the economy being in poor shape is a big reason why more expensive cuts aren’t being sold. Also, because briskets are more a holiday meat, and the big holiday month was
“Briskets are for holidays,” she said. “It’s more of a festive food. The holidays cleaned out the freezers.”
Sampo provides meat to several businesses in the area, including Giant Eagle and Murray Avenue Kosher.
Dick Roberts, a spokesperson for Giant Eagle, says the grocery store chain hasn’t experienced any shortages in its kosher meat supply.
“Approximately 35 of our stores have kosher products,” he said. Giant Eagle hasn’t experienced any product shortage so far. The amount we normally have hasn’t been affected.”
Roberts continued to say that during the holiday season there were no reports of meat outages and that consumers can expect to find Alle beef and Empire chickens in stock at the stores that do carry kosher meats.
Shlomo said that with the current shortage, some products are virtually impossible to find, or have even stopped being manufactured.
“There is no more pure ground kosher beef,” she said, “they’ve started mixing it with chicken and veal.”
However, those keeping kosher this Thanksgiving should be happy to hear that kosher turkeys will not be a problem during the holiday.
“Turkeys seem to be OK,” she said. “We have plenty of turkeys. Two years ago they were the problem, luckily not this year.”
(Mike Zoller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)