With the Yom Tov buying season now only two months away, kosher consumers got some good news and some bad news with respect to kosher poultry for the Yomim Tovim in September. Industry sources say that there will be more than an adequate supply for the Yomim Tovim, but prices will be much higher than last year with no price war in sight despite the widespread availability. Even as the industry waits to see developments at Agriprocessor (a sale is yet to be approved by a judge and the new owners have also not revealed their plans for the future), there have been many new developments in poultry.
Empire Kosher Poultry plans to significantly increase its kosher chicken capacity. Empire’s regularly scheduled non-holiday production capacity is approximately 225,000 chickens per week, with a peak holiday production capacity of approximately 350,000 chickens per week. With the addition of the new line, Empire’s regular capacity will expand to more than 500,000 chickens per week and almost 800,000 chickens per week at peak times. Agriprocessor is producing approximately 150,000 chickens per week. There is also significant production from major poultry producers like Alle, Vineland and Falls. Other production also comes from the Upstate Chasidic enclave of Kiryas Joel.
Kosher consumers who prefer organic chickens will also have more to choose from. In addition to Wise, Empire is set to expand its antibiotic free and organic poultry lines. The chickens will be fed only certified, organically grown vegetarian diets. All of Empire’s poultry products are raised on family owned farms within 75 miles of the Empire plant and are free roaming, allowing the birds to grow naturally.
Empire has dedicated two growing houses, with a capacity of almost 60,000 chickens per week, to its ABF product line and another growing house, with a capacity of almost 30,000 chickens per week, to its Organic line. This volume accounts for between one third and one half of Empire’s current weekly production.
In addition, a new joint venture between Pegasus Capital Advisors and The Hain Celestial Group is set to launch Kosher Valley(TM), a new complete line of certified kosher antibiotic-free (ABF), vegetarian fed and humanely raised all-natural chicken and turkey products. The Kosher Valley brand leverages the experience of longtime leaders in the ABF poultry category and unlike most kosher poultry companies, will focus exclusively on ABF poultry. All Kosher Valley products are certified by Rabbi Yechiel Babad and the Orthodox Union and produced in Plainville, New York. Kosher Valley products have already appeared at Whole Foods Market and other select retailers since July 6th.