The Matzav Shmoooze: Sky-High Pesach Food Prices


pesachDear Editor,

Maybe some of your readers can help me, because I am lost.

I am having trouble understand why Pesach food is so, so, so expensive. Why is a bottle of Pesach ketchup more than a dollar than regular ketchup?

Why am I paying through my nose for simple products just because they say “kosher for Passover”?

Why does my Yom Tov have to be ruined because I am being ripped off – or at least I feel like I am – by manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers…whoever is to blame for these outrageous prices?

This is getting me very depressed.


Desiring to have a good Yom Tov

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  1. You can boycott the system and not starve. Meat potatoes, eggs, fermented vegetables were the staples of passovers past. If you are a kitniyot eater, then you have another palette of natural food stuff to work with. Limit the amount of factory foods, and you will, with some creativity and work in the kitchen, thrive and have a joyous holiday.

  2. While I do agree to an extent with your feeling of frustration at the cost of Pesach food, I am sure that many companies need to raise their prices to cover their cost to kasher their plants, change their ingredients, hire extra mashgichim and also lose the days of work while closed to Kasher.

    Now does this add up to the actual price that it should be costing vs the prices charged? I doubt it but who am I other then a simple consumer who pays the prices because I have no choice.

  3. You dont have to get ripped off. Its not easy, but if you shop around and buy only stuff that you can use throughout the year, at least your not wasting your hard earned money on products you wouldnt use after pesach. . In new york its a,little easier. there are hand shmurah matzoh brands for 12 dollars a pound. Meat in queens and brooklyn is very competitive. I know its not easy with work and then cleaning and shopping, buts its the only way not to get ripped off. I wish you much savings in your pesach shopping. Enjoy the Chag. Dont get caught up in the food.

  4. We always say food should be cheaper on Pesach because there’s less ingredients…what is your opinion??
    Have a wonderful Yontiff 🙂

  5. To produce “kosher for peasach” products costs more then all year products. Special ingrediants, Hashgacha timidi, Storage (items are produced starting in Dec or Jan, and labor to clean and reset the store shelves. More labor at the check out counters. Overtime for workers who now work more then 40 hours per week. plus many more factores.

    Usually, items that kosher for passover all year, such as wine, most cheeses, a lot of chocolates are the same price as all year.

    Another thing to keep in mind is basic economic theories. More demand causes prices to rise. More demand and less supply causes prices to rise even higher.
    The last think to keep in mind for us orthodox Jews, ‘maaminim bnai maaminim’, (it eally should be the first thing ) is that yom tov expenses
    ‘do not count’. Everything is determined at Rosh Hashanah except…..yom tov expenses.

  6. Please “Desiring”, go ahead and set up your own food business, we are all waiting for your affordable alternative. I am sure you would quickly figure out where the expenses go.
    We welcome free market and competition.

  7. Hi my friend efie just showed me at the office thet he tried to post a comment to this article and it still has not been published. Why? there is nothing offensive in it.

  8. The answer is quite simple. A special run needs to be made for Pesach since it does not taste the same. What is left after is waste so the cost of the run plus special distribution of the run needs to be included in the amount that gets sold for one week of use. The run needs to be a smaller run which makes it cost more per item and it also may need more expensive ingredients for Pesach either to make it kosher out so it should still taste good. Add to that a profit for all the steps of the distribution chain and you have a higher price. Extra research needs to go into taste for Pesach since the ingredient options are more limited. That deserves compensation as well.

  9. It’s called price gouging b/c they know that they can get away in charging you a hefty price for KP products. Everyone wants a profit and they don’t care if you make pasech or not as long as they make more money in their own pockets. Call consumer affair or your local councilman and complain.

  10. Some decades ago, most Pesach foods were prepared at home from scratch. The big bucks for prepared foods are the price paid for saving time and effort—objectors to the high prices could consider doing food prep the really heimish way.

  11. in reply to comment #4 effie Hand Shmurah Matzah at 12 dollars a pound is below the cost of production in the USA, the actual production cost is in excess of 16 dollars a pound, and that is before taking into account leftover inventory- the 12 dollar matzos are produced in Israel or Ukraine and may be below production price there also.

    For those who eat machine matza you can buy regular mache matazas at 2 to 3 dollars a pound and machine shmura at 6.50 a pound

  12. I dont know about all you people from New York and Lakewood complaining—-you wanna see sky high prices come to Toronto, then you’ll see what sky high is—- Chag Kasher V’somach

  13. You have to look around at all the stores to get the best price. Limashal, here in Brooklyn, Waldbaums has Kedem 64 ounce grape juice for only $2.99 (limit – 1 case). Thats cheaper than even all year round. One food might be cheaper by Moisha’s, one by Paperiffic, one by the Kollel store, one by Goldbergs (18th Ave.), etc… You have to look around.
    Now Hand Matzah, thats a whole different story! Those filthy crooks learn’t very well from their mafia partners in crime – Esrog “dealers”! They make up their price as they go, taking advantage of eirlicha gullible Yidden! They all should be investigated & if necessary, thrown in prison! Their criminal behaviour is unbecoming Frumah Yidden! For shame!

  14. 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

  15. its not really ripping off they have to stop production (u pay for that) they need to kasher the plant (more $)they need to use different ingredients usually costing more…and they only do this for a small run, and they dont sell very much of it its not to popular because so many ppl dont eat processed foods

  16. Agree with RAM. Buy less junk, less prepared stuff, less nosh. Spend less in the junk food aisle and buy a Pesachdik food processor you can use to make your own healthy goodies. Back in the day eating kosher meant eating healthy because there simply wasn’t a supply of kosher junk. Now…your kosher grocery probably has one entire aisle just of candy, another of cookies….

    Get the kids/grandkids involved in making stuff themselves – it tastes so much better when you’ve made it yourself!

  17. Comment #8. from “reader” and Comment #13. from “yankel” allude to the fact that whenever there is any kind of a “specialty item,” that specialty item is going to cost more money. A “specialty item” is a special form of a certain item that is made in a special way that is different from the usual way that, that item is made. So since special considerations and special efforts had to be used in making this special version of the item, it will have to cost more money (than the regular version of the item does) to pay for those needed special extra considerations and efforts.

    Comment #2. from “Anonymous,” Comment #7. from “lets be frank,” and Comment #10. “from don’t do that” explain in a bit of detail what are some of the many special extra efforts that are needed in producing the specialty items of foods that are Kosher for Pesach.

    So WHERE the higher prices on Kosher for Pesach items are because of the special efforts that were needed in producing the special Pesachdike items, that is certainly fully legitamite and understandable. The consumers too need to realize this.

    (For a totally different example. A person is looking to purchase a new automoble. The basic version of a certain model costs $15,000. There is an enhanced version of that model, which has electric locks, electric windows, electric adjustable seats, and cruise control. This enhanced version sells for $18,000. The person does not have the slightest complaint that the enhanced version costs $3,000 more than the basic version, for he keenly realizes that the enhaced version has a number of special features, which cost more to produce.)

  18. To Roeh please explain to everyone here why hand shmuah costs to produce more than 12 dollars a pound ? I’m sure a lot of people like myself why hand shmuah costs so much. Also in queens it’s eing advertised for 10 dollars a pound as long as you buy 50 dollars worth of groceries. Some people are trying to help this guy not to have so much on pesach food and at least enjoy the chag .

  19. to # 16 as a torontonian i agree .american have no idea how lucky they are. the prices here are outrageous. Over the past few years i noticed that prices increases before pesach on items like fresh meat the cost of which should stay the same ,then this new price stays at that level till the upward cycle repeats next pesach. Shelves restocked with regular prodcts after pesach have new higher prices.
    especially true at sobeys.. biggest ripoff around.
    At least our american brothers have some competition to prevent exactly this kind of larceny Our vaad hakasruth sees whati see yet they dont seem able to prevent this abhorant practise.

  20. I have news for all of you with the “make-it-yourself” suggestion. We are of the chassidus that buys nothing processed, we prepare our own sugar (liquid), prepare shmaltz (no oil), etc. And the cost of Pesach is still sky high. Toronto, Montreal, New York, wherever. Somehow, BH, we all do it.

  21. There is more work that goes into KFP items which you as the consumer is not privy to. For the most part, the manufacture has to shut down normal production a week before his pesach run so they could do a proper cleanout and kashering. Then take into account the time that said manufacturer is stuck producing the KFP and ONLY KFP item instead of whatever they normally produce. They have to make it up somehow!

    Let me add to that, that most of the reputable hashgochas will usually put a mashgiach t’midi or almost t’midi where a pesach production is taking place. We dont work for free. My bills need to be paid just like yours do.

  22. zisha ur language is despicable…did u ever think of the effort involved in matza…do u know the halachos….the way the water is brought in…complete turnover after only minutes of production…the salaries of hundreds of workers…the rolling pins that need to be constantly replaced (after shaving to much) the constant change of tablecloths and gloves it all adds up and let me tell u these matza bakers are not making that much if u dont like the price open ur matza factory and sell the stuff for what u think it should be…lets try to be dan lecaf zechus and think of what goes into a finished product

  23. (Continuation of my previous comment #23)

    At the same time though, the producers and sellers of Kosher for Pesach foods, and, in general, the producers and sellers of all-year-around Kosher foods, must be extremely careful with this issue. They have a special obligation to make sure that the higher prices that they must charge are ONLY those higher amounts that they need to adequetly pay for the extra efforts that are needed in general Kosher and Kosher for Pesach production. For they have a special obligation to make sure that they DO NOT, Chas V’Shalom, charge more money than that (merely because they know they can get it because they know that the Frum Jews need it and will pay whatever overly high price is asked).


    Here though, if there is, Chas V’Shalom, price gouging by general Kosher and Pesach Kosher items, in addition to the problem of G’neiva, there is also something that may be an even more serious problem:


  24. (Continuation of my previous comment #24)

    We need to remember that, very unfortunately, most of our Jewish bretheren are far away from the ways of our Torah. Now, even for us who ARE involved in Torah knowledge and observance, the Torah itself informs us that the Mitzvos of Kashrus are of the catagory of Mitzvos called “Chukim.” Chukim are Mitzvos, which, when viewed SUPERFICIALLY, the reasons for them are not apparent. It is only when we examine and contemplate them in great depth can we begin to realize what their reasons are.

    For an example in the area of Kashrus. There is the Mitzva that we Jews cannot eat meat of the Chazir – the Pig, which is called “Pork.” Now, when we look at a piece of pork, it looks like any good piece of meat, so it is hard for us to understand why Hashem says that it is bad for us to eat it. However, when we contemplate the subject deeply, we can begin to realize that the pig is well known to be a filthy animal with bad character traits. So we can begin to realize that our eating the meat from such an animal could possibly bring some residue of those bad traits into us.

    So again, even we had to think a good bit about this point before we could have even some beginning of an understanding of it. So our Jewish bretheren who are not involved in Torah are certainly not going to have much of an understanding of it.

    Furthermore, right in this subject, they have, very unfortunately, been fed a lot of terrible false information. They have been told and taught that in the olden Biblical times, living creatures carried all kinds of diseases. Therefore, the people then made up these numerous dietary laws as various food safety measures. However, in our modern age, we have advanced scientific knowledge along with all kinds of modern techniques and technology that can effectively cleanse fish, fowel, and livestock meats, from all germs and impurities. So, they say that the old Biblical dietary restrictions are no longer necessary!

    Of course, Boruch Hashem, we, who have been taught the truth of Torah very well know what is the answer to these terrible false charges. First of all, the “Jewish Dietary Laws” WERE NOT “made up” by people; instead, they are sacred Mitzvos that are decreed by G-D!! Second, yes, the Rishonim do say that when G-D keeps us away from eating the meat of certain creatures, HE is giving us a benefit in that HE is keeping us away from the diseases that are sometimes carried by those creatures. But HE obviously has infinitely more and much deeper reasons for HIS decrees against eating those meats. So even if we could — supposedly — remove all of the diseases, HE is still decreeing as much as ever that those meats are off limits to us!

    But again, we, who, Boruch Hashem were taught the truth of Torah, are the ones who know this. Many of our bretheren, unfortunately though, still have in their minds the lies and fabrications that they were taught.

    The many ones who are not quite as “scholarly” on the subject will simply retort with blunt sarcasm:

    “What kind of ridiculous ‘Kosher’ law is this???? I am only allowed to eat a piece of meat that some rabbi said ‘Omein’ on????”

    Regarding the special Kashrus for Pesach products, they will be even more cynical:

    “Aw, they just take those same cookies (from all year around) and put them in a different box!!”

    So as they barely even believe that there is even any kind of a real need for their food to be “Kosher” (or on Pesach to be specially “Kosher for Pesach”), if they see on the “Kosher” and “Kosher for Pesach” items significantly higher prices, they are certainly NOT going to put out more of their money to buy them!!

    If the higher prices are higher prices that are “fair,” then maybe, MAYBE, we can explain to them that these higher prices are to cover the higher costs in producing these specialty items. But, if the higher prices are obviously just some callous price gouging, they are certainly not going to do what they will consider as outright wasting their money.

  25. I saw a great looking Hagadah for Sfardim at Moishies – looks great! It says it’s for kids but it looked like it would be good for adults too. Just $10 – oversized and hardcover-THAT’S a Pesach bargain!

  26. (Continuation of my previous comment #30)

    One of my relatives, Alav HaShalom, was as a person, a really great guy; unfortunately though, like the vast majority of American Jews of his generation, he had very little knowledge of and connection with Torah. When he grew up, surprisingly, he met and made a Shidduch with the daughter of a Rav in Baltimore. (As to the question of how could a prominent Rav permit his daughter to marry a man who had almost no connection with Torah, we should remember that this was during the 1920’s, when among American Jews of that era, a person who had any connection with Torah was something that was extremely rare!)

    He was very proud of this Shidduch; “I married the daughter of A RAV!” he once told me. He continued: “A ‘Rav’ is higher than a ‘Rabbi’; there are different levels!”

    When the Shidduch was made, there was some kind of an “understanding” or an “agreement” made that the kitchen & the food would be Kosher. For a good while, this was adhered to. When at one point, the couple moved to the Los Angeles area, the Kosher observance was still continued.

    Now this Kosher observance was something that was especially difficult for my relative — emotionally. For he was in the retail grocery business; he had his own grocery store, and in his own grocery store, he sold regular chickens made by the major non-Jewish company “Armour.”

    (An Internet search today showed two web sites for “Armour,” one at: and the other at:; of course, I have no way of knowing if these two are related companies or if either of these were the same company with the chickens.)

    So again, in his own grocery store, he sold regular Armour chickens, which to him, certainly seemed to be be perfectly very good quality chickens. Yet, to adhere to the Kosher observance, his wife went over to the local Kosher butcher store, and — obviously paying more money — bought the (we will soon see that it was SUPPOSEDLY) “Kosher” chickens.

    One evening when he came home and came into his kitchen, he looked at the new chicken his wife had just bought. They noticed that the “Kosher” label was really a large piece of stick on paper that was stuck onto the plastic bag that held the chicken. So they pealed off this paper label, and — Lo and Behold — on the plastic bag, on the part that had been covered by the paper label, WAS THE LOGO AND TITLE OF THE ARMOUR COMPANY!!!!


    Now I certainly have no way of knowing exactly why the butcher did this; I can only guess at a couple of possible explanations. Maybe, this store was like many other so-called “Kosher” food producers of that era; they were run by severely wicked corrupt people, who would get in regular non-Kosher products and then, for inflated profit, sell them out as being “Kosher.” Maybe, this butcher’s wickedness was not of a Mafia type corruption, but rather of a PHILOSOPHICAL nature. In effect, he was hinting to my relative: “Why, of all people, are you (who has his own grocery store) breaking your neck for this Kosher thingy??? I don’t believe in it myself!!! Here!! Have one of your own Armour chickens!!!”

    Or, maybe, this butcher did not mean anything sinister at all. Maybe, as he knew that this customer had his own grocery store, in a friendly way, he was just kidding around with him with a silly funny little joke!!

    Whatever were the butcher’s intentions, my relative though, DID NOT think it was funny!! He did not think it was funny at all!! He did not take it as any kind of a “lighthearted joke”; instead he took it seriously. He took it VERY SERIOUSLY, and he was greatly enraged:


    Needless to say, this was the ABSOLUTE END of my relative and his wife doing anything with “Kosher.” Their observance of other Jewish areas was also close to zero; they did not belong to or go to any kind of shul at all.


    To my relative’s credit, I will mention a few Jewish things that I knew that he did do. Above, I already related how he was very proud of the fact that he had married the daughter of a Rav.

    One time, I stayed over in his apartment for Shabbos. In the morning, he found a yarmuka, a (silk) Tallis, and an Orthodox Siddur that he had and lent them to me. So I used them to Daven; when he came back in his living room and saw me sitting on a chair and Davening, he remarked: “GOOD!”

    A while later, when I had my Bar Mitzva, he came to the service we had; he took an Aliya and said the Birchas HaTorah — in English.

    At one point, his son, Alav HaShalom, was ready to (Chas V’Shalom) marry a non-Jewish Italian woman. At this though, he firmly told his son ABSOLUTELY NO!! and, Boruch Hashem the son did not marry her.

    More recently, the son told us that he was seriously considering giving the Chabad center in his area a huge donation — to dedicate a classroom — as a memorial for his parents.

  27. My advice…buy only what you absolutely need for the few 2 or 3 days of the holiday. Then the prices will be slashed pretty quickly-since the stores have to unload the goods no one wants after the 8 days end. Then buy what you need at that time- but not too much or YOU will be stuck with the passover food you dont want after the holiday! And if they dont discount it for some reason, I stick with mostly fruits, veggies and meats…better for the digestive system anyway!


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