Monday, 1 September 2014

Kosher Cheese - Why is it so Expensive?

I get many questions that come across my desk that never get blogged. Here's a question about how kosher cheese is made and why it costs more than vegetarian cheese. Here is the question in full.

"I always check the cheese section to see if we can buy non-certified kosher cheese which is almost half the price of kosher or more!  What makes cheese kosher?  Do you need a person “watching” the factory make cheese?  Does it cost the company a lot of money to be certified?  Who’s making all the money??? Are the kosher certification companies stealing/or deceiving the kosher consumer because of the cost? Does it have to do with supply and demand?

Nowadays the rennet they use in the cheese (which the company states on the package) is NOT made from animals, it’s made from vegetarian rennet.  How could kosher cheese be so much more? 

I understand a little more about the strict supervision of the meat process and wine.  Raising the animal and slaughtering it takes time and money for a person to do that work?  Wine is more clearly stated.  But cheese???

Thanks, your conscientious kosher shopper."

To answer simply, in order for cheese to be kosher not only do all the ingredients and utensils used be kosher, the process must be supervised by Jews. Not only that the vegetarian rennet that helps form the cheese must be added by the Jewish supervisor. 

The costs for all of this raises the price for kosher cheese. The limited number of consumers of kosher cheese and distribution costs increase the price too.

When we compare the price of kosher chicken with supermarket chicken we can get very upset by the price difference. However, if we were to compare prices with boutique organic chicken we would find the prices very comparable. It isn't just the cost of having a mashgiach, there are higher costs because there are fewer consumers. The kosher market cannot compete with the conveyer belt style of mass meat production.

If you would like to read more about how kosher cheese is made and why it must be more expensive than vegetarian cheese. Please read this article by Rabbi Gordimer. Click here for the link.

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