Japan

Japan has a new luxury item: wagyu beef

Beef

Premium quality meat has seen a constant increase in prices and is set for exports in western markets.

Posted on Feb 12 ,07:00

Japan has a new luxury item: wagyu beef

Japan may be a huge importer of beef but is also an exporter of high-quality meat priced as a luxury item. Wagyu is the latest product that Japan wants to promote it on western markets like the US or Europe, informs Nikkei Asian Review.
The exports of wagyu beef could increase to 100% in less than two years if caterers like Itoham Foods and Starzen manage to achieve US sanitary certificates that will allow them to export the product across Pacific. At this moment, Itoham Foods exports approximately 470 tonnes of wagyu beef in Taiwan and some western markets but the numbers could elevate by 50% in one year, as sources inside the company confirmed.
At the same time, Starzen initiated a collaboration with Adirect Singapore and announced a modification of processing techniques of wagyu in order to respond consumer habits found in different markets. According to Motoyasu Hasebe, president of Starzen International exports to Singapore should double in this fiscal year. "We aim to forge more business alliances of the same type and further expand exports", pointed out Hasebe.
In the last 5 years, the stagnant domestic market has reduced the numbers of wagyu cattle in Japan by 10% and the prices went up. For example, one calf of wagyu was sold at an average price of 780,000 yen (7,204 dollars), up to almost 60% compared with 2013, and 1 kg of wagyu A4 beef, a premium quality product, costs between 2,300-2,400 yen (22 dollars), up by 40% than a year ago.

Stagnant incomes in Japan led to a drop in sales for wagyu beef on the domestic market, but the exports have increased 10 fold in the last decade. The perspectives on West and Asian markets look much better, only last year sales abroad rising with 40% to 2700 tonnes. Now, wagyu producers in Japan hope that the exports will reach 25 billion yen (279 million dollars), or 4,000 tonnes of high-quality beef, until the end of 2019.

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