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Argentina. Big controversy over kosher meat business

Por Martin Klajnberg
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The owner of the wholesale supermarket chain Diarco stated that he will not submit to «the mob deals of the kosher meat guild» because of his initiative to sell this product at «very reasonable prices. A well-known rabbi came out to answer him and recommended him «to keep selling flour or noodles, but not to get into trouble».

Itongadol.- Argentine businessman Roberto Goldfarb, owner of the wholesale supermarket chain Diarco, added a new complaint against «the mafia deals of the kosher meat guild» and stated that the meat packing plant that was supposed to deliver on Wednesday 30,000 kilograms of meat to start supplying his business after the Jewish holiday of Sukkot «is not going to deliver a single kilogram».

Levin / Goldfarb

The controversy began after Goldfarb announced that he would start selling kosher meat at «very reasonable prices, practically like regular meat,» after seeing for years «the exorbitance of prices being charged by the kosher system of butchers and meat dispatchers».

«I am very sorry that many religious people, people who live with four or five children in an apartment, spend months without being able to buy meat because of their prices. I’m not going to accept the mafia deals of the kosher meat guild. When I go out on the street to sell kosher meat I sell it properly, maybe 20 percent more expensive than regular meat, but not 100 percent more expensive and stealing from people with the weight, fat and bones to throw away,» the businessman said.

However, in a dialogue with ItonGadol, Goldfarb said that today he was informed that «from next Monday they are going to make the delivery of the meat, but it corresponds to a third of what had been programmed».

«Immediately after I called another slaughterhouse, which has the supervision of another rabbi, who had offered to deliver meat to us 15 days ago. But the rabbi said that because of the controversy that had arisen on the subject, he was not in a position to allow me to go out and sell with his supervision,» he added.

Kosher certificate.

Offended by the businessman’s comments, Rabbi Samuel Levin, director of the Ieshiva Chafetz Chaim of Buenos Aires and supervisor of kosher meat at the Gorina meat packing plant, dismissed the accusations and justified the high price of the meat by arguing that it includes special supervisions, among other charges that must be taken and that have an impact on the final price. «There are some precautions that make the process slower. I work with 30 people, 10 ‘shojatim’ (who slaughter kosher meat) and 20 supervisors, who are specialists» he explained in a dialogue with ItonGadol.

Even Levin accused the businessman of «not following kashrut guidelines» and of being «rude» for calling those who sell kosher meat » mobsters. «You can’t just go around supervising and certifying kosher meat. People buy from us because they know our meat is well supervised. He can sell flour or noodles, but he must stay out of our way,» the rabbi said.

Abasto Shopping Mall, of Irsa Group from Eduardo Elsztain, has his kosher McDonald’s.

In response, Goldfarb defended the work done by Rabbi Yosef Feigelstock, of Chabad Lubavitch, who oversees kosher meat from Diarco, and stressed that he is also in charge of monitoring the meat sold in the Disco and Jumbo supermarket chains.

Boca Juniors club recently opened its kosher burger stand

«Rabbi Feigelstock has been supervising kosher meat for a long time, he didn’t start out doing it for me. In fact, you can find Feigelstock’s supervised kosher meat in Jumbo and Disco supermarkets, which is where the butchers, who are tired of the mafia, go to remove the merchandise from the shelves, take off the labels and sell it as their own meat in their butcher shops,» said the businessman.

The Latin American Rabbinical Seminar joined the controversy generated in the kosher meat market in Argentina and stated that «Kasher means fit, not expensive».

Finally, Goldfarb assured that it is a matter of time, but that the meat will sooner or later reach their shelves, at the promised reasonable price so that everyone can have it.

On the other hand, this week it was known that the Argentinian and Israeli Foreign Ministries are working against the clock with businessmen from the main kosher meat packing plants to obtain authorization for the entry to the country of a new group of between 120 and 140 Israeli rabbis and slaughterers who will be working on this product.

Arrival of the slaughterers to Ezeiza Airport. Photo: Clarín

According to the Argentine Foreign Ministry, meat exports to Israel will reach this year 24 thousand tons and a value close to 170 million dollars.

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