Inflation: A Passover Horror Story
With inflation rising higher than ever, this year’s Passover shopping will prove to be a very costly endeavor for most Jewish families. Incredibly, inflation across the board for all products has grown to over 7% in just the last month of January when compared to prices last January. This will undoubtedly affect kosher consumers more than average, as there are analyses that kosher products have increased in price by over 15% as compared to last year. This is already on top of the existing price difference between kosher products when compared to their non-kosher counterpart which ranges from 20% to almost double the price. However, the product that seems to have seen its price increase the most across both the kosher and the non-kosher industry is the wine and hard-alcohol industry. Big agricultural commodity trader Agritel is quoted as saying “Galloping inflation has started on energies and raw materials and is moving now toward consumer prices.” With rising costs associated with manual labor prices, logistical traffic, a low supply of necessary bottling and storage equipment, and a dramatic increase in price for raw agricultural materials, the average alcoholic beverage is predicted to cost a significant amount more than last year.
Alcohol and wine have always been more expensive than other consumer beverages, but this year buying an alcoholic beverage such as liquor or wine will do significantly more damage to the consumer’s wallet compared to last year. When it comes to wine, a variety of factors are pushing the price dramatically up in stores across the nation. The first is the scarcity of herbicides in vineyards. Herbicides are normally used to prevent bugs from damaging vineyards, as well as killing weeds, which allow for uncompetitive access to soil nutrients. Without the herbicides, the vineyard industry has to rely on manual labor, which can normally drive up production costs by ten to twenty percent. On top of that, with the labor shortage in the U.S. caused by factors such as the Great Resignation and COVID-19, manual labor costs have skyrocketed. A third blow to the vineyard industry, dealt by a variety of climate change effects, has caused crop yields to shrink from 40% to 20%. To add to the consumer’s woes, due to the fact that crop yields have declined, the average grape quality has markedly increased due to fewer competing crops. While this is great for the flavor of grapes and their associated wines, due to the quality increase, farmers and wine producers are asking for higher prices. After the farming factors, come the production issues which, due to logistic issues associated with the COVID pandemic and its related lockdowns, has led to a scarcity of wood-related products used to age and store the wine, which, too, has increased the price for wine.
COVID has made its impact felt on the wine bottling industry. The most popular bottling product for wine, glass bottles, have become increasingly hard to produce and distribute to wine producers. This strain of COVID logistical problems has led bottlers to pass on the price increase for glass bottles to consumers. Finally, the last factor that has influenced the marked rise of costs of wine for consumers in stores, is the large demand increase. When the pandemic was in full swing, people spent an above-average amount of time entertaining themselves by drinking. That increased appetite for alcoholic products has remained with the lessening of COVID restrictions.
Ultimately, all these factors, increased inflation, disruption in the supply and raw material lines, and increased demand, will all cause Passover shoppers to have to spend significantly more for their holiday wines and beverages.
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