80,000 Jews spent this Pesach in Orlando
The numbers are in: Approximately 80,000 Jewish people spent this past Pesach in Orlando, Florida enjoying warm weather and kosher availability. And if you were concerned about kosher sales in Brooklyn, they went up. Whole story
Rafi and Baila went to the Orlando Jewish pop-up community for Pesach. Last year, during the Covid-19 crisis, they ran the seder with their 4-year-old son and 11-month-old daughter in their Brooklyn home. For the decade leading up to 2019, even before they got married in 2015, Rafi had joined his parents at the Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem.
With Israel still restricting access to foreigners, Rafi joined a group of friends who were part of a program that enabled him to rent a beautiful house in the Encore settlement.
The organizer provided all of the food and even arranged a tent to serve as a synagogue. “It was pretty close to a second after the citadel,” said Baila. “All of our meals were catered for and we had excellent waiters and staff.” Not everyone has joined a program like Rafi.
Many took part in the Pesach in Style program or through other groups. Some made the arrangements themselves, drove down with their meals, or joined one of the many trucks that drove south from the New York, New Jersey area.
The Grove, the largest kosher supermarket in South Florida, supplied to many vacationers, while New York-based caterers like Batya also provided the service.
The Winn Dixie stores, which have vastly improved their Passover selections in many of their Florida stores, offered “Passover Meals Made Easy” with Weberman’s Traditional Foods and an a la carte Passover selection in their South Orlando store at. As in many stores across the country, the Winn Dixie ran out of some staples, to the frustration of many vacationers who relied on the chain to replenish their missing items. Rafi said Orlando was “the place to be”.
With pop-up pizzerias and several star concerts, it could have been Lakewood or Brooklyn, but it was in the toasty climate of central Florida. There was even a pre-arranged speed dating and at least one fundraiser for a well-known charity.
Because of its excellent tourist infrastructure, Orlando was the natural place for an “immediate” community, as several people have called it. With hotel programs down 75%, the Orlando option was a boon to the kosher food industry.
Rafi is already planning Passover in 2022 and again hopes that his parents will join them like this year. Some also book for Sukkos and even Hanukkah. While Dubai is the newest destination in the Middle East, Orlando is definitely the new charm in the US kosher community.
And if you were concerned about kosher grocery sales in Brooklyn, here’s the news for you: They went up.
Emily was shopping at one of the kosher independent stores for Passover, the first time she had been in a store in nearly 13 months. Until she was vaccinated, she’d all shop online. A survey of many stores in the New York area found that some stores were performing 10 to 15% better than in 2019, the last full year before the success of Covid-19.
In general, 2021 is a good year for many as the industry saw a surge in grocery shopping.
A survey of the general food market showed a noticeable increase in spending on packaged consumer goods by up to 14%.
The food and beverage segments that saw the largest US dollar sales increases over the period were staples such as frozen foods (+ 29%), dry grains and beans (+ 28%), baking ingredients (+ 27%), and fresh Products (+ 24%).
There were also significant increases in alcohol (+ 23%), breakfast foods (+ 21%), non-alcoholic beverages (+ 18%), coffee (+ 14%), snacks (+ 13%) and sweets (+ 12%).
Many of the kosher stores said they too saw large increases in some categories, if not all.