The Matzav Rant: Insane Pesach Food Prices

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kosher-lpesachBy Shmuel Miskin

The concern I will share today is most definitely not a new one, but it is an issue that comes up every year, and we have yet to find an answer to this dilemma. Why in the world is Pesach food so expensive? The prices of Pesach food products are outrageous. These kosher-for-Passover items, from ketchup, to mayonnaise, to cakes, candies and dairy products are all so much more expensive than these foodstuffs are during the year.

Is there any good reason that a box of a handful of chocolate leaves costs the kosher consumer over 7 dollars? Is there a good reason why a bottle of kosher l’Pesach ketchup cost over a dollar more than it does during the year? Why do I have to pay close to ten dollars for a box of sorry tasting kosher l’Pesach sponge cake?

Why do we continue to allow food companies to fleece us – yes, fleece us – every year Pesach time?

Now, in my home, we buy few items for Pesach. That is our minhag and mesorah. We make most items from scratch and try to purchase as few items as possible. But even so, we do buy certain items for the kids to eat, and we do have to purchase certain products each Pesach season. For those who buy many kosher l’Pesach products, the price gauging affects them even more acutely. Pesach is an expensive Yom Tov as it is.

As I said, the overpricing is utterly outrageous. We walk around these stores like helpless losers, paying these crazy prices each year before Pesach.

Now I understand that in many cases, special runs have to be arranged to produce these Pesach products. This involves time and additional expense. But there is a limit. The hiking of prices that we, frum shoppers, experience is unacceptable and shameful.

Everyone has to make a parnassah and I respect that. But to hold us, frum Yidden, hostage every year is disgraceful.

It is about time that someone – an askan, a baal chessed, anyone – came along and did something about it, producing quality kosher l’Pesach products for normal prices. We should not continue to allow the pre-Pesach shopping experience to be marred by the overpricing that seems to take place with little, if any, protest.

{Shmuel Newscenter}


  1. I don’t mean this as an advertisement but I just bought my Pesach meat at the kollel store in Boro Park and the prices were lower than a whole year. Not every supplier is greedy, kudos to the kollel store.

    If the kollel store can do it why can’t everyone else?

  2. The reason for overpricing can be primarily laid at the foot of kitniyot.

    So many things today are made with corn syrup or corn starch, and it simply costs more to change things for what is a relatively small market in comparison to, say, the whole United States like thankfully so many American food companies are willing to do (make all of a product according to kosher standards, in which case there is no extra cost).

  3. There seems to be price fixing going on among the several Pesach product manufacturers. It’s not possible that the same item is available from four or five makers and yet, they are all priced ridiculously high. This collusion needs to be investigated and these companies need to be held accountable. Competition is important in that it is supposed to protect the consumer from price gauging. These companies have formed a defacto cartel or trust that must be broken up.

  4. This will never change until WE CHANGE. Until WE as a kehila stop buying certain over priced products nothing will change.

    My rov actually told me to buy machine matzah.

    I’m already saving over 1,000 dollars by doing so.

    And the most shocking is the fact that most pesach products are actually cheaper to produce since there are less ingredients and HEALTHIER ingredients which is unusually more cost effective.

    Another FACT is some companies “lose” 150,000 for the one day they are cleaning machines etc.

    Now if a company is producing xyz, all they have to do is raise each product not more than 3 cents to make their money back for the “loss”.

    I challenge any company to tell me otherwise. i have stats and figures to prove my point from most companies that make kosher food.

  5. I was in a heimisha take out store on Ave. M and they had their Pesach order/price list sheet out. Everything on the list including items that are Kosher Lepesach all year round, was $1, $2, even $3 a pound more. It’s a tremendous Chutzpa & Gineiva! Like you say we need the movers and shakers to threaten these crooked store owners. What they are doing is almost as bad as the Esrogim dealers!

  6. I had a former relationship with a takeout store, and I asked the owner once why kosher lpesach potato kugel costs twice as much when its the same recipe, and his response to me was that its not the price of the kugel that costs more, its the fact that he has to shut his business for 2 days to get a mashgiach to come in and kasher his kitchen, pay for the mashgiach for pesach season, pay for new machines and ovens if they cant be kashered, new plastic stuff, and it adds up.

    While I am sure he is still price gouging, it is not a shock to anyone that it costs a fortune to be Jewish. Matzah for $22 a pound? thats also insane

  7. “It is about time that someone – an askan, a baal chessed, anyone – came along and did something about it, producing quality kosher l’Pesach products for normal prices.”
    Go for it. You first.

  8. Without the other side of the story, this rant is a load of hot air. You ask, why is the price of ketchup a $1 higher? Well, let’s think about it a little. During the year, the kosher company goes to a manufacturer that makes a name brand of ketchup under a national supervision and rents it out for its own run. For Pesach, the natinal brand does not bother to make a kosher run, therefore the kosher company has to come in and kasher the whole plant (i.e. increase costs), for pesach they may have additional chumrahs (i.e. some more increased costs). Now when kosher brand goes to sell, it does not want to be left with anything, since it does not have a market for the rest of the year. So they have to build in a little of a higher profit margin to cover the costs of unsold items (i.e. you got it, some more additional costs) Untill we know as a fact that these companies are walking away like a bandit with margins way above normal, what is there to protest about?

  9. I agree !00% with this article. I wish all of us would get together and make up to purchase Shmura Hand Matzohs only for the Sedarim and Leche-Mishna for the Seudahs and you would see how fast the prices would come down.

  10. the reason for these expensive prices is that kosher for passover food involves more work & more time to make (including workers to watch the food & expensive machines that can bake in less then 18 minutes etc…) with this involved & all the extra money it costs the companys to hire this extra work they need to charge more. I JUST WISH THERE WAS A WAY AROUND IT (AKA volunteers to watch the food & do all the extra work) ON THE OTHER HAND this is a nisayon (test) from H-shem to see if each of us has the proper faith in Hashem & believe that he will make it through pesach even with all the expenses & work involved MAY EVERYONE HAVE A KOSHERIN PESACH

  11. agreed!!!!

    We need good practical suggestions. There is nothing an askan of Baal Chesed can do. This is business. Your comment that it cost more to do a Pesach run is probably true but how does that apply to the bakeries who are not doing a Pesach Run they are turning their stores and baking day and night for months yet somehow we have to pay almost 75% more per pund then Chometzdiga cake. How can that be?

    Meats and chickens should not cost a penny more. They are Pesachdig all year. Ask anyone who was involved in the industry and is not a Nogaya Bedovar and they will tell you that the Shlacthoise and process is only Pesachdig all year so those prices should never go up.

    Stores get awayt with it because we have no choice. we need ideas to stop this outright Genayva.

  12. Also, why are the prices of Esrogim and Matzah’s so expensive? I am sure there is a special place in shemayim waiting for these esrogim pardes owners and matzah bakeries since they are only doing this leshma of course.

  13. unless a plant is always kosher for pesach they have to kasher the plant so you also are paying for the cost of not producing anything during the kashering and the cost of the kashering proccess as wel. Plus the ingredients are more expensive (nuts costs more than flour)

  14. Why is corn syrup not allowed? It’s a DERIVATIVE, of kitniyot and it’s less that 50% of any product (batel B’rov). Until we get rid of our own obsessions, the costs will continue to increase

  15. Captialism dictates that if someone could make a good living selling these items for substantially cheaper they would. The only way to lower prices is to offer the goods and services for less.

  16. its redicuious that the prices are so high. and where i come from the prices are way higher than in the tri-state area, which is why we normally go there to shop for pesach.

  17. Good rant – now be willing to do something about it. Write a letter not to, but the Justice Department or the NYS Attorney General’s office. There are anti-trust laws in this country. They are designed to protect us from things just like this. A group of manufacturers getting together and keeping prices high together. I do not doubt that for a second that there are additional costs to the manufacturers on Pesach – but I do think that they are taking advantage of the system.

    Is writing a letter informing? i don’t know – but I would simply be asking them to investigate. If everything is Kosher – then we will know that is why prices are high. If not, they deserve their punishment.

  18. Don’t judge until you know the facts. It is assur to have a court case without both sides present. Perhaps all these claims are true but in the way it is presented it is nothing short of a smear job. You are labeling all!! food manufacturers and stores as crooks. Maybe (just maybe) if they are all doing it their is a reason.

  19. to #13
    this is a nisayon (test) from H-shem to see if each of us has the proper faith in Hashem & believe that he will make it through pesach even with all the expenses & work involved MAY EVERYONE HAVE A KOSHERIN PESACH

  20. This is all very confusing I mean if koshering and preparing factories cost for most products 4 times the amount then why do so many say that its bordering on stealing it is so so confusing but nobody not a single company bothers explaining itself doesnt that fact alone show you that theres something dodgy going on here and maybe we should do what the rabunim did hundreds of years ago with the excessive priced fish they told people no buying fish this year and gosh did the prices drop

  21. Rule #1 of capitalism: never charge less than someone’s willing to pay.

    If a store is charging more for a product than you’re willing to pay, DON’T BUY IT! Is a week without ketchup or chocolate really such a horrible tircha? Other than matzot (“this is the poor man’s bread for which we pay $20 a pound”), there’s not a single manufactured product that I absolutely must have over the course of chag. Leave the abominable potato-starch “pastries” on the shelf, and make some meringues or sorbets. Manufacturers, even the “heimish” ones, have one job: to maximize their bottom lines. They are not in the business (much as we might wish otherwise) of providing goods at prices that we wish to pay.

  22. Many people have noted that it is more expensive to make common food items in kosher for pesach form. At Shoprite last week I noticed that some of the store brand cranberry sauce is O-U P (made with sugar rather than corn syrup). It was priced at $0.89 for a 15 oz can, same as the non-pesach product.

    Also, kosher for pesach Coca-Cola is sold for the same price as regular. How is this possible?

  23. The take-out stores definately double or triple their prices, but as for the regular stores, if you shop early enough there are plenty of “sales”, on the groceries and meat and chicken too! (I agree with post #1), It is cheaper than I have been buying the past few weeks…

  24. A real shame, these companies are doing very well all year around selling generic items with a kosher brand name and selling for as much or more then a real brand name, if companies do not have enough volume to have a pasach run at a reasonable price don’t do it……there is NO sympathy for the haimishe co they are extremely profitable, and by the way for most items these co produce there is no real extra cost (potato chips…ect…) enough said for now

  25. many items r kosher for pesach all year around.
    they play with our Fillings, u can buy coffe, tea,fish,meat, cleaning items, soup, shampoo, etc , they r kosher all year for pesach.

    bay items from the chametz shelfs its much cheaper.
    u dont have to pay more $$ because they move the item to the pesach section.

  26. how its possible that OK , OU , items r the same price all year around?

    when u add a hamishe kosher stamp the price Goes up !

    trash bag, plates cups, plastic forks, spoons & knives, etc etc , with a echsher!?

  27. to comment .#1, the meat prices in the kolel store are the yearly gift of the wonderful Rubashkin family to klal yisroel in n,y, wish there were others who would link up with this family and do the same tovas horabim for jewish communities elsewhere

  28. 1 – Shoprite and coke as well as others absorb the higher costs of the sugar which they use instead of the cheaper corn syrup. However, there are no sales on pesach coke etc.
    2 – Supply and demand dictate prices. Stop buying and the price will go down. Then again, the product also won’t be available next year…
    3- It does cost more (sometimes alot more) to produce passover products.
    4 – When you go to a wedding you spend more on your clothing etc. you dont say ‘well, why are they charging me more for this dress..suit… They usually charge less for my everyday suit”.
    So take this pesach as you would any other, stop complaining and enjoy it.


  30. The reason why take out stores need to charge 10-20 percent more for Pesach is simple! If the raw products,sugar oil, mayo etc. cost 10-20 percent more, add cleaning, kashering, xtra mashgichim, you have your answer.Not always is the store owner to fault! Chag kasher v’sameach. A take out store in Brooklyn

  31. The reason why take out stores need to charge 10-20 percent more for Pesach is simple! If the raw products,sugar oil, mayo etc. cost 10-20 percent more, add cleaning, kashering, xtra mashgichim, you have your answer.Not always is the store owner to fault! Chag kasher v’sameach. A take out store in Brooklyn

  32. #31: That may have been true in previous years but i am not sure if it is true for this year. I am not sure who is supplying the meat now.

    The climb in price is not new. However, many items that have ingredients that are changed for Pesach result in higher prices. If “pesachdiker” vinegar costs more, ketchup that is made with vinegar costs more. If the oil is more expensive, mayonaise is more expensive. if the preservatives are more expensive…. and so on.

  33. We, who anyway are observant of Torah, will simply grin and bear it as we pay these overly inflated prices for the (general) Kosher and Kosher L’Pesach products that we need. However, what we don’t realize and what we forget about is that our Jewish brethren who are not in the realm of Torah observance are certainly NOT going to pay huge high prices for something that they do not understand the reason for and do not really even believe in — kosher food.

    There is no question about it, the extra exorbitant prices of (general) kosher food items and Kosher L’Pesach food items — items which are often of poorer quality than the non-kosher counterparts — give non-religious Jews plenty of fuel for their excuses for not wanting to follow Torah. “Just because a rabbi says ‘Amein’ on this piece of meat, means that I have to pay twice as much for it??” “The kosher meat is terrible; it is mostly bone and all full of fat!!”

    I can never forget the following incident. Many years ago, Yeshiva University would sponsor these week long camp/retreat trips that were similar to the well known NCSY conventions. On the airplane flight back from the first one that I was privileged to attend, I was seated next to a guy who I had known a little bit. A couple of times, my mother had taken him and me on some outings. Years latter, I was attending the Orthodox shul where he held his Bar Mitzva; I was impressed with the large amount of people who came and that he did an excellent job with his readings. And now, he had just went to this YU seminar.

    So I was quite surprised to now see how ANTI-religious he really was. When all of us were served the airline “Schreiber’s” brand kosher meals, he started complaining to me and went on and on with how terrible it was that we had to eat these terribly made kosher meals. He pointed over to some non-Jews who were enjoying the regular meals with large scrumptious entrees and exclaimed: “LOOK AT WHAT THEY ARE GETTING!!”

    When the plane landed and we were getting up to get off, he bluntly told me: “When I get home, I’m going to have a GOOD meal!! NOT Kosher!!”

  34. (continuation of last remark)

    Regarding Pesach products, they are even more cynical: “A-a-a-w, they just change the labels!”

    I once had a distant relative, Alav HaShalom, who was a really nice, helpful, wonderful person. Unfortunately though, he knew very little about Torah. When he grew up, he did a Shidduch with the daughter of a rav. (As to how the rav could have acceded to this, remember, this was during the 1920’s, when Bnei Torah in America were very few and very far between.) He took great pride in it as he happily told me: “I married the daughter of a RAV! A ‘rav’ is higher than a ‘rabbi’; there are different levels!”

    Even though he obviously had no shaichus to Torah observance, there was still some kind of understanding that he and his wife would keep a kosher kitchen.

    At one point, they moved to the Los Angeles area, where, in those days, any kind of true Judaism was quite limited. My relative had a grocery store, and his wife went to the local kosher butcher for the meat and poultry products. Now this was certainly very difficult for him, for in his own grocery store, he himself carried good quality regular “Armor” brand chickens. One evening when he came home to his wife, as they were looking at the kosher chicken she had bought, they realized that its kosher company label was really just a stick on paper that was stuck on top of the plastic wrapping around the chicken. So they pealed it off, and lo and behold underneath in the plastic wrapping WAS THE LOGO OF THE ARMOR COMPANY! This “kosher” chicken was really a regular Armor chicken that the kosher butcher had probably got from my relative’s store!

    Of course, we do not know why the butcher did this: Did he just mean to make a friendly joke? Did he have some kind of perverse pleasure in this shtick of pulling such a sick prank?

    Whatever was the butcher’s intention, my relative DID NOT take it as a joke, and he DID NOT think it was funny! He did not think it was funny at all!! Oh yeah, he was really enraged:


    Needless to say, this was THE END of him — and his wife — the daughter of a chashuva rav — obviously had no choice but to go along — having anything to do with “kosher”!!

    I will mention a good — Torah observance — that he did. At one point when his son, Alav HaShalom, wanted to, Chas V’Shalom, marry an Italian goya, he strongly told him “nothing doing!” and the son did not marry her.

    In the period before the son was niftar a few years ago, the son had some involvement with the local Chabad center and was seriously considering giving it a huge grant of money for a memorial for his parents.

    In one of his weekly Parsha HaShavua shiurim that I was privileged to hear, Rav Pam, ZT’L, related about and vehemently condemned the phenomenon of frum Jews making monetary scandals and thus causing terrible Chillul HaShems. He exclaimed that in our task of getting our non-observant Jewish brethren to come to Torah, we are NOT going to convince them by telling them elaborate arguments and philosophical proofs of the truth of Torah. Rather, the only way that we are going to be m’karev them is by when they see US acting in ways that are nice, decent, honest, and respectful.

  35. Chocolate leaves? Ketchup? Are you serious?!? Matzah you need, wine too, and yes, those are not cheap. But if you don’t like being ripped off for Kosher L’Pesach ketchup, well, just don’t buy it! You are choosing to spend your money on complete optional items. That’s your prerogative of course. If you can’t live without chocolate leaves for one week, well, then you’ve created the problem for yourself, not the manufacturers or the stores.

  36. This is the second “being frum is so expensive” post featured at Matzav. I believe it was none other than Rav Feinstein who said that saying “it is hard to be a Jew” killed an entire generation. Leaving tuition aside for a moment, the costs of keeping Kosher, yomin tovim, etc, can and should be controlled. Leave the sponge cake on the shelf and, please, find a replacement rather than whinning about being a helpless loser.

    We spend less per year than the food stamp allowance for a family our size, and our “food” budget includes non-food items like diapers, cleaning supplies, and toilettries. Since I became a smarter shopper and better meal planner, I continue to shave off dollars despite having more children and having growing children. Smart shopping, planning ahead, and controlling the urge to buy $10 sponge cake makes a huge dent in a budget.

    The complaining is getting a bit juvenille if I say so myself.

  37. There are some items that are OU P all year around – baking soda, (some brands of) salt, Domino’s sugar, e.g. – you can anticipate sales well before Pesach and stock up.

    And there’s such a thing as loss leaders too – take advantage of them.


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