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Passover 2023 Recap

By Arlene Mathes-Scharf Copyright© 2024

Passover is a holiday that is a major part of Jewish family life. People prepare for it weeks if not months before. Everything that people eat needs to be certified Kosher for Passover. Many families got together for the first time since Covid began. It is like preparing for Thanksgiving meals – except 3 meals a day for 8 days.

Passover 2023 presented a number of challenges to the consumer:

High Prices: Mayonnaise was almost $10 for a jar. Consolidation of the Kosher for Passover industry has left only a few companies in the market, so companies can charge what they want. Passover mayonnaise has a limited market. Companies also continue to make the mayonnaise from cottonseed oil rather than switch to a healthier oil such as avocado oil so that the product would have a year-round market.

Shmura Matza: Closure of major matza factory in NYC caused a scramble for people to find hand shmura matzos. Prices were high.

Quite a few Israeli products were offered in the Passover section. Israeli products with multiple heckshers that were difficult to read. This was particularly difficult with Kitniot products that listed in a tiny font in Hebrew that they were kosher for Passover only for people who eat Kitniot.
Recalled Elite products from the previous year being sold in the Passover section

Lack of chalov stam dairy in New England: For those of us in New England there was a lack of chalav stam dairy. The products that were listed as produced mostly did not show up in the local stores. There was no chalav stam heavy cream or half and half. A few chalav stam Passover products showed up in places without large Jewish communities right before Passover when most people had already done their shopping. One result was dramatic price overcharges for chalav yisroel dairy. This forced people who were not so committed but wanted to purchase Passover chalav stam dairy, purchasing non-Passover certified products. My local Stop and Shop had a lovely Passover section, but the Passover dairy that had been available in previous year was not there. Shortly before Passover, I talked to a local member of a Conservative shul at the Stop and Shop. Her shopping basket was full of Passover products, but had chalav stam cottage cheese. She said she would have preferred to buy Passover certified products but they were not there.

Dannon yogurts were not produced kosher for Passover 2023. People still remember them and look for them. I was asked quite afew times as to whether the Dannon Yogurts would be available. Consumers should contact companies that make products that they would like to see certified kosher for Passover and request that they make products available as kosher for Passover.

Lack of availability of other products: Products that had been available in previous years were not, due to a variety of factors. Coconut sugar, which has a low glycemic index and is a staple for many diabetics was not available for Passover. Coconut Secret was purchased by Nutriva, which discontinued the Coconut Secret sugar product. Nutriva also changed the certification of the Coconut Aminos product from Star-K to OU. The Star-K was allowing this product for Passover and the OU did not.

Non-Passover products mixed in with Passover products: Non-Passover products being sold as, or mixed in with Passover products; I heard stories of mixed cases of Passover and not-Passover products shipped with outside marking claiming Passover certification. Non-Passover products were delivered to people and establishments who had ordered Passover products. I do not know if these were deliberate or just incompetence.

Kitniot and other products in the Passover section with multiple certifications: Some were for Passover and some were not which was very confusing although this has been a problem for a number of years.

Hopefully in 2024 companies will plan better to anticipate problems, so that the people who celebrate the Passover holiday, can get the products that they need.

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Arlene J. Mathes-Scharf  
Food Scientist - Kosher Food Specialist
Scharf Associates
P.O. Box 50
Sharon, MA 02067