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PHILADELPHIA – This week, many Christians will celebrate Easter and people in the Jewish faith will observe Passover, but both holidays look different this year, with many families celebrating virtually to practice social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But holiday food suppliers are promising not all traditions will be lost.
“There’s no shortage of matzah in the market,” said Ilan Ron, president of Kayco Kosher & Beyond.
And, “All of our wonderful varieties of Peeps and flavors and colors that American consumers know and love are available,” said David Yale, president and CEO of Just Born Quality Confections.
For people of the Jewish faith, matzah plays a major role during Passover seders.
“Matzah is a staple for the holiday. There’s no seder without matzah,” Ron said.
For people of the Jewish faith, matzah plays a major role during Passover seder dinners.
For many Christians, Easter is celebrated with chocolate bunnies and Peeps.
“Peeps and Easter are almost synonymous. It’s certainly an American cultural icon associated with Easter, although we do have offerings at the other holidays,” Yale said.
For many Christians, Easter is associated with Peeps, a marshmallow treat.
Ron and Yale said April has been a crucial month in sales for both industries.
“Matzah is sold year-round, but in the first quarter around Passover it represents maybe two-thirds or 70 percent of the annual business of matzah,” Ron said.
“Peeps at Easter is probably about 75 to 80 percent of our annual sales,” Yale said.
While they have had to make adjustments at their facilities due to COVID-19, both Yale and Ron said the holiday food supply has already been shipped out.
“I can assure you that we are able to provide all the demand that we receive for matzah,” Ron said.
Despite being considered an essential business, Peeps shut down production at their Pennsylvania-based headquarters for two weeks for safety reasons. The Easter supply, however, was already shipped to its suppliers.
“Everything is shut down, except we do have essential maintenance and sanitation personnel in the plant doing the cleaning,” Yale said.
Ron oversees Kayco, the world’s largest matzah distributor based in New Jersey.
He says many employees are working from home, and those who work in production are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) guidelines.
“A lot of the matzah is produced for us before the crisis started. Some arrived during the beginning of the crisis. But we were able to distribute any order that we had," Ron explained.