By Natalie Shaw
Several deputies, particularly those outside of London, have recently raised concerns regarding accessing kosher foods prior to last Pesach. Apparently some supermarkets that traditionally offered a limited range of products considerably reduced their range. The Communities Division have briefly discussed this situation and we would like to know of specific problems encountered and responses given locally by the supermarket staff to see if we can try to find a way forward.
We also know that some major supermarkets seem to be reducing their ranges of all year round kosher foods in certain branches and utilising the shelf space for other “world foods” considered more popular. Without doubt limited shelf space will inevitably be prioritised by the merchandisers for goods which appear to sell well compared to those which only appear to have a limited take-up. I know for example that customers used to be able to buy a variety of kosher foods at the local Sainsbury’s in East Barnet but these have considerably reduced in recent months. When an elderly customer questioned the branch manager he said it was due to lack of demand. There is a growing variety of kosher products available at certain kosher supermarkets such as Kosher Kingdom in Golders Green which many people seem to be purchasing. This is fine for those with cars but it is becoming problematic for many of our seniors used to rely on buying basic provisions locally and cannot get to these shops. We would welcome hearing those who believe their area has been adversely affected in this way. We would also encourage you to buy kosher products from local stores rather than those located further away as this will boost local demand required by stores to give products shelf space. By doing this you will provide a lifeline to those who can only shop in their local vicinity.
In the meantime, If your community finds it difficult to purchase kosher food we would recommend that you arrange for a communal meeting with the local supermarket manager being invited along with the buyers from their head office. This approach appears to have worked in Hatfield where Tesco were persuaded to stock a limited range of products for a period of time to establish demand. The community then promised to use the service which has been successful and the range expanded. It may also be worth exploring if use of Ocado or online purchasing portals for ordering food centrally could be used to send food to communities without sufficient demand for space to be allocated on local supermarket shelves.
Again, if you find it difficult to obtain kosher foods through online supermarket services let us know and we will try to see if there is a common desire that could be raised with the companies at a head office level. It would also be helpful to know of specific products which are difficult to source to see if there is another option.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org who will be collating this information for the Communities division over the next couple of months.