Some ideas start out as a satirical attempt to lighten up a pessimistic situation, then as more information comes to light you realise the longer term implications for our community are more serious than initially thought.
At the street level you buy your food and grocery’s from the retailer. Every week you rock up and expect your items to be there, available for purchase on demand. No pre order, just rock up and buy. Occasionally and more recently since Covid you rock up and a few items are out of stock. Common practice is for any retailer to resolve the shortage and if it is a more prolonged, then notify or publicise the situation and advise the customer base. This is called customer service !!
The retailer behind the scenes uses a supply chain to procure product and ensure supply. The supply chain for kosher products often starts in Israel or the USA, transits via Melbourne and then onto Perth. For example the manufacturer creates the product in Israel/USA, ships it to the importer in Australia who may then sell direct or employ an array of agents to further distribute the products into individual states.
Everytime a business interacts with the supply chain, costs accrue and the price increases to the consumer. The ideal situation would be having the least amount of people involved between the source and ultimate destination of the product. This allows a favourable situation to offer the best price to the consumer and allowing for a decent margin by the retailer to stay in business.
Since the early 2000’s in Perth we have managed to successfully outsource our supply chain to Melbourne. All our kosher meat, hard cheese and a huge variety of other kosher products especially at Peasach all come from over East. We have let our collective selves become subjected to the mercy of Melbourne based suppliers and wholesalers and you would be wrong to think they lose sleep worrying about our culinary needs over here in Perth.
Every Pesach for the last 15 years it has been more difficult to find certain products. Sourcing KLP margarine is almost as exclusive as membership to The Weld Club. Kosher meat has also been in much shorter supply and for those of you who wait for the meat to be discounted before it reaches the use by date, it is now as elusive as mining for bitcoins.
Earlier in 2023 the cheese supply graph looked something like this.
And now with the recent decision of Coles to no longer
supply kosher cheese it is shaping up to follow this pattern. Less cheese, a
single retailer responsible for supply and consumers faced with little choice.
Not a winning combination for the consumer.
Meanwhile over in Melbourne this retailer Cheese & Dairy – Shop online at Kosher Kingdom Food Market in Melbourne, Victoria appears to have a range of cheeses available. Multiple brands, multiple options, sliced, shredded and blocks. In Perth we now have a single brand, a single option, and a single retailer for Kosher Cheese. Winner winner chicken dinner. NOT.
As a community how did we end up here after all the support from kosher consumers over the decades ?
For starters nobody wanted to invest and make Perth a centre of excellence. Those that did attempt Kosher food manufacturing in Perth with a view to exporting to the biggest market for Kosher goods in Melbourne, soon found out that the Politics of kashrut can be used to make it very difficult to compete over East.
Option B, making kosher products that can be sold to the general local market to allow for scaling up never happened.
No one from our community which really should have been the JCC WA got involved to press our case over East with their compatriots. Again the Jewish consumer loses.
As this situation unfolds we hear little from KAWA, Coles or the Kosher Providore. I would have thought there would have been social media posts and emails from the KP promoting themselves as the only place to buy Kosher Cheese. It would be nice to see KAWA actively involved and publicly updating the consumers with details and possible steps towards a solution. Likewise it would be nice for Coles to have announced why there was a sudden change and steps they were taking towards alternative products.
Instead we receive information via confidential sources that can not be disclosed, the school car park rumour mill and the chattering classes at shule. What a way to go Perth.
Please write to Coles asking about the lack of availability of Kosher Cheese by following this link Submit feedback & suggestions | Coles
Write to KAWA KAWA| Kashrut Authority of WA and why kosher consumers are treated as second class citizens and can not have a range and choice of Kosher cheeses similar to Melbourne ? Why is KAWA not actively trying to resolve the situation and if indeed they are why is it not being communicated proactively ?
Write to the Kosher Providore email@example.com and ask them if they will be expanding the range of cheeses they currently sell, given they are operating in a monopoly situatuon for this product range. It may also be worthwhile enquiring if they are increasing the amount of kosher cheese they stock to meet demand, after all you as a consumer have a right to know.