Soaring Prices Make U.S. Beef Procurement Hard in Japan

Tokyo, July 4 (Jiji Press)–Import prices of U.S. beef have been surging in Japan, making procurement hard for traders and dining facilities such as barbecue restaurants.

Behind the spike in prices are the yen’s recent sharp depreciation against the dollar, reduced beef supplies from U.S. farmers and fierce competition for American beef with countries such as South Korea and Mexico.

In search of cheaper foreign beef, related Japanese sectors are stepping up efforts to diversify procurement sources. Securing the amounts needed appears difficult, however. Normally priced at reasonable levels, imported beef is now expected to remain unaffordable for budget-minded consumers in Japan.

U.S. produce accounts for roughly 40 pct of Japan’s beef imports, which total 500,000-600,000 tons a year, with frozen short plate, demand for which is high from barbecue and “gyudon” beef-on-rice bowl restaurants, making up a large chunk of beef from the United States.

In May, wholesale prices for U.S. beef short plate in Japan jumped about 60 pct from a year before to 1,436 yen per kilogram, the highest figure since such statistics began in 1993, according to Agriculture & Livestock Industries Corp.