Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Are They Feeding Those Birds Anyway?

WARNING: Major Rant Ahead

OK. I've HAD IT!!!
Really I have.
The kosher food industry in my mind has hit an all time low.
I want you all to know that I waited a FULL WEEK before posting this in order to give those involved a chance to ameliorate the situation, but apparently those with the power either shop elsewhere or have money to burn.

Kosher chicken in my neighborhood has gone to $3.29 a pound. You heard me! Seriously!!! What is WITH THESE PEOPLE?!??! What are they feeding those birds? What are they feeding those mashgichim??!?!?

Sources have informed me that the manufacturer of the chicken that is under KAJ Hashgocho, market their product under three separate labels, which are priced differently, IN ORDER TO CREATE THE ILLUSION OF COMPETITION!!!! You heard me again! Then why, pray tell, is my local supermarket ONLY carrying the most expensive option? While I'm not even sure that I find this practice so ethical for a Jewish company, where's the competition if only the most expensive brand is on the shelf? Illusory or not? Don't I get a choice????

I refuse to pay 3.29 a pound for chicken. I simply refuse. You can only push a girl so far! (I've gotta get myself to Brooklyn, grumble... grumble....)

(Time for a little competition of my own. Higher standard of Kashrus? I say time for a higher standard of YASHRUS...)


efrex said...

I'm not necessarily one to defend corporations, but there is sometimes at least some justification for a company to sell products under different labels. The most common one is when a larger company buys out a smaller company, doesn't want to lose out on the brand name recognition, and figures that it's more effective to maintain multiple product lines rather than consolidate (see, for example, Manischewitz's maintenance of the Goodman's and Horowitz Margareten lines).

There might also be regional differences (see Hellmann's/Best Foods), which is why a particular product line is only sold in one area.

I share the pain, but this should be the worst of our tzuris

Mystery Woman said...

$3.29?? I don't pay anything close to that.... I didn't know prices vary so much in different areas.

Anonymous said...

You have to get yourself over to Shoprite of Englewood...

G6 said...

Anonymous -
Are you offering me a ride?
If you are, I'm SO there.

Anonymous said...

Not only that, spend 100$, show them your NY license and they GIVE YOU SIX DOLLARS BACK.

ProfK said...

I agree that the pricing is screwy to say the least. Empire chicken products carry the OU, the KAJ and Badatz hechshers. We have 4 major supermarket chains locally plus a few independents. The price of this chicken is not the same from one market to another. In June Pathmark sold the chicken cut in quarters for 99 cents a pound(not a special sale)--the same chicken was $3.79 a pound at Stop n Shop, $3.29 a pound at Shoprite and $3.19 at King Kullen. This week the prices were $2.29 Pathmark, $4.19 Stop n Shop, $3.29 Shoprite and a special at King Kullen that came out to $2.79. And at Pathmark and Shoprite on the last date of sale marked on the package the price drops to below $2.00 a pound.

Easier to come up with the winning numbers for the lottery than to try and figure out how one product can be priced so differently at different places and different times.

Is it significant that the word verification was OUgen?

G6 said...

ProfK -
Cut chickens?!
I wouldn't dream of buying the cut chickens anymore!!!
My local store tacks on a ten cent per pound premium for the 2 seconds it takes the butcher to toss them at the commercial saw.
Thanks but no thanks.

Anonymous said...

With the disclaimer that I really like to shop for myself because it means that I can inspect, touch, etc. each item, has whole or cut chickens for $2.99 per lb and they aren't even on sale. When they go on sale the price is particularly good. I recently got cutlets for $3.49 per pound and they needed almost no cleaning! It also looked like the prices for other groceries were more than decent - friends have said that they like the produce also, but I'll stick with the Farmer's Market for that.

And they deliver, which is nice. :)
First time orders also have an additional discount.

Shosh said...

Our chicken is similarly priced at the big (non-Jewish) grocery store. A lot of times its more like $2.79 or $2.99, and it does occasionally go on sale, but for the most part, it means that a normal cut up chicken for Shabbos costs around $12. Makes me sick! I remember when it used to be 99 cents a lb...and it was only like 10 years ago!

cuzzin buzzin said...

ethical, shmetical. it's purpose is to earn money. and even though I do not compromise on my standards when it comes to kashrus, I no longer feel an obligation to only buy KAJ fowl and cow, sadly.
however, the mashgichim I don't think, are getting paid that much. could be wrong

G6 said...

cuzzin -
I couldn't agree with you more and unfortunately, I am hearing your sentiments from more and more people - even the "die hards".
It's been expressed to me that in order to consider an hashgacha of "high standards" nowadays, it's no longer enough to have one that "out machmirs" everybody else, but also one that has an eye towards, where possible, containing costs and not being "matriach" the consumer.

As an aside, you'll all be happy to know that I was able to find chicken yesterday with a VERY RELIABLE hechsher for 2.09 per lb. (For those keeping score, that's a savings of 1.20 a pound - over 4.00 per chicken!!!)
[Now why I was also able to find the EXACT SAME packaged KAJ smoked turkey breast that is available closer to home for 2.00 less per package, continues to elude my understanding...]

BLD said...

How we miss Reb Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin. He made sure that Kosher meat was resonably priced. Please donate to his Pidyon Shevuyim.

Yehudah said...


Rubashkin was a businessman like everyone else. Stop making him into a tzaddik.

And also, how is his incarceration a pidyon shevuyim situation? That's making a mockery of the term. It's a mitzvah to ransom Jews kidnapped by non-Jews. That's what pidyon shivuyim is. It's not helping someone out of jail who was dealt a harsh sentence by a legal court.

WAdsworth3 said...

Would you elaborate on the company that sells the same chicken with three different labels at three different price points?

G6 said...

WAdsworth23 -

I should tell you that I have been informed that other (non-kosher) companies employ similar practices.

While your question is valid, I'm hesitant to answer your question "on blog". It is pretty easy to figure out though, because there is currently only one company that produces chicken under KAJ Hashgocho.

Feel free to email me off blog for the alternate labels (and if you find somebody selling them, LET ME KNOW!!!).

Anonymous said...

Kudos on your rant - which brings up some important questions. How can the kosher consumer best combat the price gouging that surrounds us.

Recently I saw a new line of kosher dairy products. It is called "Machmirim" brand. It was lined up next to the "Mehadrin" brand products. All of these are esentially mediocre dairy products which demand a kosher markup.

I laughed out loud at the name of this new dairy product name. While Mehadrin is cute - since it simultaneously implies a strict standard of kashrus as well as something beautiful. Machmirim on the other hand - is much more blunt - i.e. this product is meant for people who like "chumros" such as eating chalav yisrael.

Perhaps the next brand will be called "mekillim" and will be geared to those who drink Chalav Stam. It will have no supervision whatsoever. :-)

In seriousness - when it comes to kashrus the use of chumros or kulos is a bit of a mystery. To what degree should the burden on the consumer be considered by the supervising agency. On what basis can or should the consumer make decisions?

In the end there are only two or three) things that can effect the cost of Kosher food (including poultry). 1) demand and 2) competition (and possibly 3) governmental regulation.)

Your rant should not go on deaf ears. You should express your outrage to the powers that be at your local supermarket, do a little price comparison and if the store doesnt adjust its prices, shop elsewhere.

You can also express your outrage to the butcher directly and get everyone else to do the same. There may be some serious "price points" that keep the cost of kosher food high - but I am quite sure that there is considerable leeway and we are getting shafted. Especially with Kosher meats and poultry - since there are ever fewer choices on the shelves.

Consumers have power - maybe not a whole lot - but its time we use what we do have.

Anonymous said...

This topic brings up the old issue of "glatt kosher - glatt yosher".

Of course there is no such thing as glatt kosher poultry. But the point is that over the past 50 years or so the trend has been toward ever more stringent kashrus standards. Has this been a benefit?

In days gone by, few people ate glatt kosher meat. But today - in America, it is extremely rare for an orthodox household to eat non "glatt" meat. In Israel the situation is somewhat more diverse. But, in general, "glatt" has taken over.

While I don't eat triangle K or Hebrew National, I respect them for being one of the few providers of non-glatt products on the market.

It is amazing to me that with the high costs of kosher meat that there hasn't arisen a backlash to "glatt" products.

G6 said...

Anonymous (1:28 pm) -
Very well said.
I agree with you on all points.
I don't know how long you've been reading my blog, but you might want to click on this link to my previous post about machmirim milk. Suffice it to say I had the same reaction.

Regarding speaking out, I agree with you that we all need to make our voices heard. I certainly have - with regard to the "powers that be", the butcher AND the store management. I have been given many promises and assurances (the most recent being that prices will fall {how much??!?} this week) with no results yet. I have also "voted with my feet" and walked out of the store with soft words to the management explaining that I could not and would not be purchasing the chicken at those prices.

Regarding the need to speak out - once again, I back you 100%. After posting this rant, I cannot begin to tell you how many people approached me privately to express their frustrations and confide in me that they no longer purchase these exorbitant items {and often provided tips as to where indeed they DO shop}. I asked them if they ever complain though. Most often the answer was "no". There may be many factors contributing to the silence, and many of them disturb me greatly. The "olam" shouldn't be controlled by fear...