Brexit blamed for rise in Pe­sach food prices

● Weak pound sends im­port costs soar­ing

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANIEL SUGARMAN AND VIC­TO­RIA PREVER

BREXIT IS be­ing cited by kosher stores and sup­pli­ers as the cause of dou­ble-digit price in­creases on many Pe­sach foods, forc­ing more fam­i­lies to seek sup­port from wel­fare char­i­ties.

The fall in ster­ling af­ter last year’s vote has led to rises in the cost of im­port­ing kosher goods, es­pe­cially for the Pe­sach mar­ket.

“So many prod­ucts now are com­ing ei­ther from Amer­ica or from Is­rael,” said Rabbi Jeremy Conway, head of the Lon­don Beth Din’s kashrut divi­sion. “And they are go­ing to get more ex­pen­sive be­cause the ex­change rates have changed so dra­mat­i­cally.” He ex­pressed con­cern about the im­pact on both busi­nesses and con­sumers.

Me­nachem Sch­traks, owner of the B Kosher su­per­mar­ket chain, said the cost of im­ported goods had “gone up by at least 20 per cent since last June”. He said “mar­gins are so small” that he

had no choice but to pass on some of the in­crease to cus­tomers.

Danni Scheller of the HaTov kosher food sup­ply and dis­tri­bu­tion com­pany re­ported a fall in sales of pre-pre­pared prod­ucts since Brexit. He added that the sit­u­a­tion was “par­tic­u­larly acute in re­la­tion to Pe­sach prod­ucts, where most sales are of im­ported goods”. The prospects were bleak for the kosher mar­ket.

“There are only around 250,000 of us — and of that, per­haps 30 per cent keep kosher. A larger num­ber are more ob­ser­vant for Passover but it’s still too small to jus­tify UK com­pa­nies mak­ing a range of kosher for Passover prod­ucts. “Hatov has tried to keep that rise as low as pos­si­ble. Where some com­pa­nies have in­creased prices by 20 or 30 per cent, we have man­aged to keep our rises to 10-to-15 per cent.”

At Gold­ers Green su­per­mar­ket in Kosher King­dom, a spokesper­son said

the store was fac­ing in­creases in goods of “be­tween five and 12 per cent”. It had at­tempted to “ne­go­ti­ate the best deals” but was fac­ing lower mar­gins. Although “many [Pe­sach] prices had been kept the same as last year”, some items would be more ex­pen­sive.

Josh Lenef of the Ta­puach su­per­mar­ket in Hen­don said he had bought prod­ucts in bulk to keep prices down and had also cut his mar­gins to min­imise the im­pact on cus­tomers.

Michelle Min­sky, head of the United Syn­a­gogue’s Ch­esed op­er­a­tion, said Brexit had af­fected its work “as any change in prices will have a knock-on ef­fect on the price of sup­ply­ing food pack­ages.

“The na­ture of Pe­sach means that the community look to re­stock their cup­boards, of­ten from scratch,” she pointed out.

“This does put pres­sure on many fam­i­lies — es­pe­cially the least well off.

“We are proud to be able to sup­ply pack­ages and vouch­ers to help them en­joy the fes­ti­val.”

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