Rubashkins on the rebound

Rubashkins on the rebound

As you stroll through your local supermarket, you may notice a few items you have not seen in a while. Agriprocessors, which sells under the names Aaron’s Best, Shor Habor, Supreme Kosher and Rubashkins, has reappeared on the kosher scene following a tumultuous year that included allegations of immigration violations, worker abuse, and fraud.

Agriprocessors filed for bankruptcy in October following charges against its CEO, Sholom Rubashkin, son of founder Aaron Rubashkin.

JTA reported that earlier this month SHF Industries, a company formed in May by Canadian plastics manufacturer Hershey Friedman and his son-in-law Daniel Hirsch, bought the plant for $8.5 million. They intend to keep the plant kosher and have it up and running again in time for the High Holidays.

Some Aaron’s products such as deli meats and chicken nuggets have already started to reappear. A visit to Rockland Kosher in Monsey last week revealed 1-pound bags of Aaron’s chicken nuggets and chicken tenders selling for a discounted price of $6.99, much lower than the competition.

It’s entirely possible this was a store sale but I cannot help but wonder if the price cut was mandated by the company to attract customers back.
Shmuly Yanklowitz, founder of Uri L’Tzedek, the social justice organization created last year in response to the Agriprocessor’s scandal, told The Big Lipowsky earlier this week that the company will have to work hard to “re-emerge as a viable choice of meat.”

“I think the kosher community is much more wary of that company,” he said during a phone interview on Tuesday.

He added that there is a “tremendous amount at stake for how this company now embraces its past challenges.”

Yanklowitz called for Agriprocessors to make reparations to the community of Postville, Iowa, which he said has been torn apart. He also challenged the new owners to respond to the image created 14 months ago of a company that paid little attention to U.S. law.

“The company’s going to be under very close public scrutiny,” he said. “It has a tremendous opportunity to set an example and correct its past chillul HaShem.”

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