There is a chicken shortage in Israel this week – but consumers shouldn’t say they weren’t warned. In a notice issued early last week, the Agriculture Ministry advised consumers who wanted fresh chickens for Shavuos to stock up then. With that, the Ministry said, there were plentiful supplies of frozen chicken on the market.
Shavuos is considered a “dairy” holiday, but many people still have meat at their Yom Tov meals – and the fact that this year Israelis are cooking for a two-day combination of Shabbos and Shavuos means that demand for chicken was extremely high. But just as that demand surged, the slaughterhouses have stopped producing fresh chickens – and the supply won’t be renewed until next week.
The reason for the chicken shortage is the unusual confluence of a two-day holiday for Jews with the end of Ramadan festivities for Muslims. The month-long fast ended in Israel Tuesday with the four-day Id al-Fitr celebration, traditionally time off for Muslims. And as most of the processing of shechted chickens is done by Arabs, most slaughterhouses in Israel are closed this week, or are operating on very limited schedules.
“Work is expected to resume in slaughterhouses on Monday, June 10, the day after Shavuos, and supplies are expected to begin reaching stores on Tuesday,” the Ministry said. “Meanwhile there are large amounts of frozen chickens available, thanks to their long shelf life, as opposed to fresh chickens, which have a shelf life of about five days. The Ministry calls on consumers to organize their shopping schedules as needed,” it said in its message from last week.