A new kosher butcher has arrived in north London, and while shoppers may be smiling, not everyone is happy.
Shefa Mehadrin was until last week a Manchester-based butcher licensed by Manchester Beth Din.
Now it has opened a branch in Golders Green, just yards from established kosher stores, including glatt kosher butchers Menachems and Gross.
Manager of the new shop, Ephraim Stein, explained that Shefa Mehadrin’s owner Motti Gershon has an advantage over his competitors: “He has his own abattoir, so not too many people can beat the prices.”
That is not his only edge. Traditionally, the two licensing bodies in London are the London Board of Shechita, which licenses Menachems, and the more strictly Orthodox Kedassiah, which licenses Gross.
Shefa Mehadrin, however, is going it alone. The two rabbis licensing the shop are Dayan Eckstein, a Belzer rabbi from Stamford Hill, and Rabbi Schneebalg, who runs a shteibl in Edgware.
The meat is certified by the Manchester Beth Din, but they did not see it as “appropriate” to license the shop itself, because it is outside their jurisdiction.
Having a licence from LBS or Kedassiah, which each frequently send supervisors to check on production, is expensive.
Whether it is due to lower overheads or its integrated supply chain, Shefa Mehadrin, while having similar prices to Menachems, undercuts Kedassiah’s Gross by 15 per cent per kilo for a whole chicken and 24 per cent for a packet of beef mince.
The lower prices may be causing some customers to switch. One shopper exiting Shefa Mehadrin last week admitted: “I used to shop Kedassiah.”
Another, clutching a box of Shefa Mehadrin chopped liver, noted that the new shop was “much cheaper than Kedassiah”.
But referring to the shop’s kosher arrangements, one woman observed: “I’m not sure my husband would let me buy meat from there. I would want to check first.”