Brexit is being cited by kosher stores and suppliers as the cause of double-digit price increases on many Pesach foods, forcing more families to seek support from welfare charities.
The fall in sterling after last year’s vote has led to rises in the cost of importing kosher goods, especially for the Pesach market.
“So many products now are coming either from America or from Israel,” said Rabbi Jeremy Conway, head of the London Beth Din’s kashrut division. “And they are going to get more expensive because the exchange rates have changed so dramatically.” He expressed concern about the impact on both businesses and consumers.
Menachem Schtraks, owner of the B Kosher supermarket chain, said the cost of imported goods had “gone up by at least 20 per cent since last June”. He said “margins are so small” that he had no choice but to pass on some of the increase to customers.
Danni Scheller of the HaTov kosher food supply and distribution company reported a fall in sales of pre-prepared products since Brexit. He added that the situation was “particularly acute in relation to Pesach products, where most sales are of imported goods”. The prospects were bleak for the kosher market.
“There are only around 250,000 of us — and of that, perhaps 30 per cent keep kosher. A larger number are more observant for Passover but it’s still too small to justify UK companies making a range of kosher for Passover products.
“Hatov has tried to keep that rise as low as possible. Where some companies have increased prices by 20 or 30 per cent, we have managed to keep our rises to 10-to-15 per cent.”
At Golders Green supermarket in Kosher Kingdom, a spokesperson said the store was facing increases in goods of “between five and 12 per cent”. The store was attempting to “negotiate the best deals” but was facing lower margins. Although “many [Pesach] prices had been kept the same as last year”, some items would be more expensive.
Josh Lenef of the Tapuach supermarket in Hendon said he had bought products in bulk to keep prices down and had also cut his margins.
Michelle Minsky, head of the United Synagogue’s Chesed operation, said Brexit had made an impact, “as any change in prices will have a knock-on effect on the price of supplying food packages”.
“The nature of Pesach means that the community look to restock their cupboards, often from scratch,” she pointed out.
“This does put pressure on many families, especially the least well off. We are proud to be able to supply packages and vouchers to help them enjoy the festival.”