Bay Area hit by Matzoh shortage
Posted by FriarYid on April 19, 2008
Did anyone hear about this? Apparently all over the Bay, people are scrambling to find those boxes o’ questionable culinary goodness. A quick perusal of the net showed stories from SF, Walnut Creek, and the South Bay.
There are two contending theories for the cause of the shortage. On the one hand, some stores just didn’t have enough demand:
Two South Bay Trader Joe’s don’t have ‘em at all, managers said: Not enough orders last year.
Others see this as yet one more casualty of national supermarkets making it harder for small businesses to stay afloat:
Some big-box retailers whose bulk buying once trounced mom-and-pop kosher markets have opted out.
This year, the smaller retailers who once had to toss or donate boxes of unsold goods are watching the wafers waft off their shelves.
“We didn’t carry it this year or last year,” said Darby Greek, Costco regional manager. “The only Passover foods we carried were macaroons and gefilte fish. There are just so many holidays.”
Trader Joe’s dropped the cracker, too. “We’re taking this year off to figure out how to supply this product better,” said store spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki.
How big of you. Thanks for letting us know ahead of time.
On top of all this, Manischewitz just got a new machine to speed up production of Tam-Tam crackers, and, well, it had issues. Which probably caused people to buy more matzoh to compensate.
Personally, I have my own theory, as well as a possible solution. There are a lot of younger Jews in their 20s & 30s (i.e., without families) ’round the Bay, but a lot of places don’t sell matzoh invidiually, forcing everyone to buy in the same minimum quantities. If you buy matzoh early, you may be getting more matzoh than you necessarily need. For instance, I’m having a seder and only wanted a couple of boxes, but Safeway was selling them in packs of five. This left me with enough matzoh to feed a large family for most of the 8-day holiday when I really only needed enough for 1 large communal meal (sure enough, we fed everyone using less than two boxes).
In the video here, two co-owners of a Judaica store in San Francisco mention that they’re “rationing” out their matzoh, only selling a few boxes to each customer. I would personally love it if the major supermarkets (or, wonder of wonders, the manufacturers themselves) would sub-divide the mega-matzoh packs, but until they do, this seems like a good way to go. However, I think the consumers could take it even further: what would be really useful in years to come would be a sort of “Matzoh-Match” email list or something: people could either partner up ahead of time and buy & split boxes of matzoh together, or people who have more matzoh than they need could sell or donate their extra to people that don’t have enough (or any). Not only would this make sure that the matzoh that is being bought is getting put to good use, it would probably be a great way for people to meet other Jews near them (and potentially get some seder invites).
Happy Passover to everybody- now go check if anyone you know needs to borrow a box!