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Kosher chicken prices: Our hands are tied

  • Kosher Chicken
A lot of people are feeling the high prices of chicken making an ever larger dent in the wallet as prices go up from year to year.
by MICHAEL BELLING | Sep 28, 2016

Rosh Hashanah is a time of year when many people entertain, providing large festive meals, of which chicken is usually a basic ingredient - especially now that kosher turkey is no longer available in this country.

But a lot of people are feeling the high prices of chicken making an ever larger dent in the wallet as prices go up from year to year.

Even a medium-size roast or grilled chicken will leave little change - if any - after tendering R120 in payment.

The costs of roasted and grilled chickens do not vary greatly among most of the kosher butcheries in the Glenhazel and Norwood areas of Johannesburg. Moishes charges R139,95 a kilogram, while grilled chicken is R140 at Maxi-Discount Kosher Butchery and Nussbaums Butchery. Pick n Pay Norwood Hyper is, however, considerably cheaper - its roasted chicken is R112 a kilogram.

Fresh chicken prices vary more widely, ranging from R105 per kilogram at Moishes, to R82,95 at Nussbaum’s, R79,50 at Maxi-Discount and R77,99 at Pick n Pay. Frozen chicken at Moishes is R73,95 a kilogram and R79,50 at Maxi-Discount. Neither Nussbaum’s nor Pick n Pay had frozen chicken available.

However, frozen kosher chickens are obtainable from Pick n Pay in Constantia, Cape Town, at a Rosh Hashanah special of R46,95 per kilogram.

Michael Wener of Goldies Deli in Sea Point, Cape Town, advises “Mrs Consumer” to buy ready-cooked chickens - which he sells at about R110 per kilogram.

“Most of the kosher chickens in Cape Town are frozen, and in brine, so you lose weight with the liquid, more weight through cooking and then through removal of the giblets.

Ready cooked chickens cut out this weight loss and save on electricity,” he said.

Expecting to find major differences between kosher and non-kosher chicken, the non-kosher birds were priced both at the Pick n Pay Hyper and at Woolworths in Norwood. Fresh free range chickens (non-kosher) at Woolworths were R66,99 a kilo, around 16 per cent less than the average kosher price.

Comparatively, special offers at Pick n Pay did reveal significantly lower prices - R28 a kilogram for fresh chickens and R43,99 for fresh chickens with the giblets removed (also non-kosher).

In spite of the high prices, both Baruch Lurie, CEO of Nussbaums, and Max Klass, a director of Maxi-Discount, told SA Jewish Report that at this time of year chicken sales go up over 20 per cent.

Klass said people were used to the prices of chicken. “The prices are not good, but there’s nothing we can do about it. That’s what kosher business is,” he said.

There were valid reasons for the high cost of kosher chicken, he added.

“We have to have a mashgiach. The abattoirs have a mashgiach and shochtim (ritual slaughterers). Slaughter volumes are much smaller than treif volumes and you can’t use hot water to clean the chickens. Extra staff have to pluck the feathers.

“And that is just the beginning. For kosher chickens you need staff, water, time and salt. All these contribute to the high cost.”

Lurie agreed that consumers were pretty much attuned to what a chicken costs.

“There have been red meat increases from January this year and we are expecting more increases as a result of the drought. We are expecting more chicken purchases as a result.”

Lurie commented on people who could not afford the price of chicken or meat.

“Today a charitable foundation asked us to send meat packages to divorcees, widows and the aged. They take a bulk order and pack and deliver the meat. Today it was for 16 families.

“There is always a need for organisations like Yad Aharon and the Chevrah Kadisha.”

Ami Bolnick of Tenderchick, the kosher chicken supplier in Gauteng, had a different perspective on sales at this time of year.

“The perception is that demand for chickens increases around Rosh Hashanah, but the reality is that the sales are compacted into fewer selling days.”

He commented on the cost of chickens saying: “Tenderchick last had a price increase at the end of January this year. Prior to this the previous increase was on January 5, 2015. The increases are inflation-related. This year we experienced severe drought which caused yellow maize to increase in price significantly.”

2 Comments

  1. 2 yitzchak 28 Sep
    one settler,
    one pullet.

    Good Yontiff, and shlahen caporos!
  2. 1 Warren 28 Sep
    And yet the retail butchers will not be transparent about their costs and margins.
    What is the cost of a ready kashered chicken as it leaves Tenderchick?
    And how much does the butcher sell it for, bearing in mind that he received it kashered, and does nothing to it.
    Nobody will answer.
    Why not?

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