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Passover 2024 Recap

By Arlene Mathes-Scharf Copyright ©2024

Passover is the holiday where Jews look for things to eat. Because of the dietary restrictions of the holiday, essentially all of the foods are purchased for and made especially for the holiday. (More details can be found at https://www.kashrut.com/Passover/pesachart/). When there are shortages, or when basic products not produced, it can create serious difficulties for people observing the holiday.

This year there were several helpful additions to the foods certified for use on Passover, such as Passover certified cassava flour, coconut sugar, and coconut aminos. These were products that people on special diets had looked for in previous years. Heinz came out with a kosher-for-Passover ketchup that was excellent.

Unfortunately, there were new difficulties as well. For example, in the weeks before the holiday, I saw many reports of non-Passsover products being mixed in with Passover products on supermarket shelves. Indeed, I noticed several non-Passover products placed in the Passover section of my local supermarket; the clerk told me that these products had been mixed together in the case that that they received from the distributor. Adding to the confusion, the kosher-for-Passover status of different products was marked in different ways. These issues caused difficulties for both the stores and for the consumers, leading to non-Passover products being purchased by mistake for use on the holiday.

Another issue was “Shrinkflation.” Edwin Dworsky, former Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General in consumer protection, writing at https://www.mouseprint.org/tag/shrinkflation/ , noticed that Yehuda and Manischewitz brands of matzah -- now offered in 4 lb. boxes instead of the usual 5 lb. boxes -- were being sold at Stop and Shop for a dollar more than they had charged last year for the 5 lb. box, a 50% per-pound increase. Edwin’s story was picked up by other media outlets. He later reported on his website that after publication of his story, some prices were the lowered in a Stop and Shop in New Jersey and elsewhere. Edwin also found “shrinkflation” in Goodman’s macaroons that had gone from 10 ounces to 9 ounces, and in Yehuda Matzo farfel, which had gone from a 9 oz. canister to an 8 oz. box.

But perhaps the most widespread issue that hampered the kosher-for-Passover consumer this year were shortages of certain “Chalav Stam” Passover dairy products, while other of these dairy products were delivered late. These shortages of “Chalav Stam” products were a problem even in the New York area. One example of an unexpected shortage was Breakstone’s cottage cheese and sour cream -- staples of the Passover dairy market. This year, despite a full-page advertisement in the OU Passover directory for Breakstone’s Cottage Cheese and the OU listing Breakstone cottage cheese and sour cream among the dairy products it was certifying for Passover, the company ultimately did not produce those products for Passover.

(To encourage the company to make these products next year, consumers should contact Breakstone’s parent company, Lactalis Heritage Dairy, at https://breakstones.com/contact-us/ or (312)934-2480.)

The absence of Breakstone’s cottage cheese and sour cream as kosher for Passover caused a shortage of these products, leading to a spike in the price for Chalav Yisroel Passover cottage cheese. (A 16-oz tub cost $8.50 in the Boston area.)

Also, in the New England region, many Passover products were no longer available as the holiday approached, with supermarkets selling out their Passover stock and failing to re-stock the shelves.

Passover TempTee Cream Cheese, for example, was available early on at some supermarkets, but only in small amounts that quickly sold out.

Meanwhile, Passover consumers continue to look for Dannon kosher-for-Passover yogurt -- an item which has not been produced for a few years now. (Dannon can be reached at https://www.dannon.com/feedback-form .)

It would greatly assist the kosher community if purveyors of kosher-for-Passover foods would publicize that Passover staple foods that the kosher consumer ordinarily expects to find on the shelves will not be produced in time for the holiday, giving consumers advance notification and an opportunity to prepare.>

Hopefully, in 2025, companies will produce needed products in a timely manner so that the people who celebrate the Passover holiday can buy them and have an enjoyable holiday.

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