Tesco's big Manchester Pesach push
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Tesco has fired the first shots in a Pesach price war by unveiling a record 500-plus Passover items, including 12 own label lines and many special offers.
And Manchester's Prestwich and Cheetham Hill stores will be among those carrying the biggest ranges.
Launching the Pesach campaign, kosher foods buying manager Gershon Odze said the significantly increased range was in response to customer demand.
The kosher for Passover Tesco lines include tea bags, freeze dried coffee and orange and apple juices. Mr Odze said they would be priced the same as, or even below, the mainstream equivalent, as was also the case with smoked salmon.
To be able to offer a £3.99 wine is a great benefit
Coffee and tea are under Manchester Beth Din supervision and the authority's Rabbi Hillel Royde said it was delighted by Tesco's approach. "We are happy to see more Pesach products on the market for customers."
The own-brand lines followed on from the successful launch of Tesco kosher baked beans last year, Mr Odze explained. "We listened to customers, when they said: 'Can we have more?'"
Pesach items also include a range of half-priced wines, sourced by the Tesco Master of Wine. "With what people spend on Pesach, to be able to offer them a £3.99 bottle of wine is a tremendous benefit," Mr Odze said. A low alcohol kiddush wine is being sold at £3.
Tesco last year offered Israeli matzah at 29p. Now two boxes can be bought for 99p as the cheapest of the "buy one get one free" promotions on matzah. There will again be no Rakusen's matzah this year, a result of a dispute over pricing.
Mr Odze would not be drawn on the perennial complaints from kosher store bosses that they cannot compete with price-cutting supermarkets. He preferred to highlight Tesco's commitment to Jewish shoppers.
"Tesco is the only multiple with a dedicated kosher buyer. It is a conscious decision by the company to focus on kosher and offer customers the range they deserve."
There has also been a significant rise in the number of stores stocking a Passover selection, with the 53 including Express outlets. Online shoppers in Jewish areas can take advantage of a dedicated web service from March 21.
Tesco has also presented a £10,000 cheque to special needs charity Kisharon for its therapy service.
Shopping at the Prestwich store on Wednesday, Dan Glickman was "surprised to see the Pesach stuff out so early. But I think there are some good deals. Usually if you buy early, it saves you money. The only question is if I can store it."