But Murray Weltz, co-owner of Park East Kosher Butchers & Fine Foods in New York, said Agriprocessors used to supply about 50 percent of the 5,000 pounds of beef he sells on a busy week, about the weight of a Hummer H3. One recent week was bad, he said. He was short 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of meat. And kosher short ribs that cost him $12.98 per pound in May are now $16.98.
The shortage has been an opportunity for other processors, however.
Last week, New York-based Empire Kosher Poultry Inc. increased its poultry output by 50 percent, adding 100,000 chickens a week to the kosher market. Wise Kosher Natural Poultry Inc., which processes kosher beef at a South Dakota plant, was also turning out more as were other smaller processors like Dallas-based A.D. Rosenblatt Kosher Meats.
A few weeks ago, A.D. Rosenblatt started making meat five days a week instead of three to keep up with demand from distributors, said chief operating officer and owner Yaakov Rosenblatt. He's hired more rabbis to slaughter and inspect his beef.
"If it's red and it's meat then it sells," Rosenblatt said.
Customers, meanwhile, are stuck. They are buying what they can and waiting to see what will happen. Chanie Schapiro said her usual meat store in Florida has not had much of a selection the past few months, not even ground meat, though chicken is easier to come by than beef.
"I can't buy steak. I can't buy roast," Schapiro said. "I'm stuck with chicken, and chicken."