The cost of kosher beef and lamb rose this week as a direct result of the strength of the euro against the pound — and a second rise is threatened for next week.
Kosher butchers have been forced to increase their prices by 20p-25p a kilo on the shelf as wholesale prices have risen by 40p-50p a kilo, a rise of around 10 per cent, according to Kosher Licensed Meat Traders’ Association chairman Jacky Lipowicz.
“For once, this situation is completely out of our control. We can do nothing about it because this is occurring in the general meat market,” said Mr Lipowicz. “We have managed to hold our prices for some time. All we can do is to keep the increases as low as possible — but it looks as though there will be more to come.”
One unexpected effect of the currency fluctuations and the recession has been a drop in demand from the non-kosher consumer for expensive cuts of beef, which come from the hindquarters, and an increase in demand for cheaper cuts from the forequarters, the only part of the animal used for kosher beef.
Edgware butcher Elaine Mann said: “The non-kosher market has traditionally preferred the hindquarters but now their butchers have become overstocked with them because supermarkets have been promoting cheaper cuts of meat from the forequarters.
“That has meant a shortage for the kosher trade and the increased demand has pushed up the price. Lamb is usually more expensive at this time of year anyway.”
David Rose, executive director of the London Board for Shechita, said: “Sterling has dropped against the euro and food prices today are international, so there are consequences. There has been a lot more interest from Europe in British beef and lamb. The increased demand has sent prices up.
“The difference in price between forequarters and hindquarters has narrowed. In the non-kosher trade, forequarters were used for processed products by those who bought hindquarters to sell the cuts. Now, in the recession, people are buying more forequarter meat because the cuts are cheaper.”