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Local kosher establishments react to nation-wide meat shortage

Posted by Brian Benson November 18, 2008 12:19 PM

Kosher businesses in the greater Boston area are bracing for price hikes from a potential meat shortage after the country’s largest glatt kosher meat slaughterhouse stopped production.

Agriprocessors, an Iowa-based slaughterhouse, ceased meet production while battling criminal and labor violation charges stemming from an immigration raid that temporarily closed its main plant in May, according to Associated Press reports.

“Prices keep going up and up,” said Walter Gelerman, owner of The Butcherie, a kosher supermarket in Brookline. “We certainly hope things will stabilize but I don’t see that happening soon.”

Gelerman said prices rise approximately 20 cents/pound every two weeks on poultry and meat. He said prices started increasing a year ago because of high fuel prices and a livestock feed shortage.

“When Agriprocessors started having their problems that aggravated the situation to the point that it seems to be spiraling right now,” he said.

At Gordon & Alperin butchery in Newton, owner Ricardo Bosich said although he does not buy meat from Agriprocessors, he is feeling the residual effects of the shortage.

“My belief is they have to raise the prices,” Bosich said. “You have people working overtime to try and make up the demand.”

In Stoughton, NRM Catering owner Neil Morris has been forced to increase prices by 10-15 percent. He said he is trying to spare customers as much of the hike as possible, even if it means cutting into his profits.

“It’s certainly a lot more difficult to get the product or get it when you want it,” Morris said. “The direct impact is having to order quite a bit in advance and, thus, having to order more than is necessary to make sure you are covered.”

The situation is similar at Levine’s Kosher Meat Market and Deli in Peabody where owner Todd Levine said he has been able to fill all his customers’ orders although it is getting more difficult to obtain meats.

“We’re trying to keep the price down and so far, my clientele has understood a lot of it is beyond my control,” said Levine, who expects the situation to get worse before it improves.
Levine said the weak economy has hurt business more than the meat shortage so far.

“[Customers] watch what they buy and try to get the most for their buck,” he said. “When you get the economy the way it is and a little shortage of kosher meat, it’s like a double hit.”

For more coverage of Newton news and information, go to Boston.com/Newton.

- Brian Benson, Globe Correspondent

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