Matza and business disruption

For roughly 3,500 years, Jews have eaten unleavened bread – Matza – as the staple of the roughly one week annual Passover holiday. It is a severe religious violation to eat leavened bread, even matza that accidentally rose too much.

Unsurprisingly, matza was made by hand for all of those years, carefully watching the clock (or sundial, or other time keeping method). Also unsurprisingly, like any hand crafted item, matza was exceedingly expensive.

In the mid-19th century, the Industrial Revolution made its way to the niche matza business, with the advent of the matza machine. Like most automation, the matza machine could make matzas faster, but especially dramatically cheaper.

Interestingly, these were not accepted as sufficiently kosher for sone time. Then, along came the highly respected Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, who declared machine-made matzas fit for Passover consumption.

The business lesson here is the power of regulator to enhance or restrict positive change. It took a rather courageous regulator to “open the market” to mass matza marketing.

Since then, global matza consumption has grown to tens of millions of pounds (weight, not British currency) per year. Ironically, the hand made “craft niche” business has grown as well. The regulatory opening of the matza market benefitted everyone – consumers with dramatically lower prices, machine bakeries with new markets, religious leaders with expanded adherence as the cost dropped to tolerable, and even the craft makers.

About Avi Deitcher

Avi Deitcher is a technology business consultant who lives to dramatically improve fast-moving and fast-growing companies. He writes regularly on this blog, and can be reached via Facebook, Twitter and avi@atomicinc.com.
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