Fears that coronavirus could cause matzah shortages in Israel at Passover

Increased demand created by Israelis' unwillingness to travel abroad risks outstripping supply, retailers say



Coronavirus might have an unexpected consequence on Israel’s Passover seder tables this year, as retailers warn of potential matzah shortages.

The coronavirus outbreak is discouraging Israelis from travelling abroad or causing them to cancel planned trips to Israeli hotspots such as Thailand and Italy.

Ynet reported that retailers are expecting increased demand because of more Israelis remaining at home over the holiday, which will take place in early April.

“We already ordered all the matzot for the holiday. Everything,” one retailer told Ynet, explaining that producers take orders based on an estimate that 5 to 7 per cent of Israelis will be abroad, while balancing this with the experience that kosher for Passover products generally do not sell once the festival ends.

“The food market will have another 3 to 4 per cent demand that it will not be able to cope with,” the retailer continued, saying that orders and production are traditionally more limited.

Coronavirus has already disrupted supply chains for products usually imported from China to Israel, such as chairs, small appliances and cooking utensils.

Turkish producers, which are on average more expensive than their Chinese competitors but ship to Israel quicker, have been the largest beneficiaries.  

The most recent matzah shortage occurred in 2008 in the United States because of a shortage of kosher for Passover margarine.

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