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Wagyu Prices Fall as Japan Turns to Crossbred Beef

27 January 2020

JAPAN - Prices of Japan's prime quality wagyu beef are on a downward trend as consumers tighten their purse strings following the country's consumption tax rate hike in October.

Domestic demand has shifted to more affordable beef from crossbred cows while wagyu prices have been at record highs over recent years. But for now, wholesale prices are likely to remain low as wagyu shipments increase.

In December, the average wholesale price of a benchmark grade A4 steer carcass was 2,319 yen ($21.17) per kilogram, down 13.8 percent from a year earlier and 4 percent from November.

The December 2019 prices marked an annual low, in stark contrast with 2017 and 2018, when the highest average wholesale price was reached in December. In mid-January the price stood at around 2,280 yen, about 9 percent lower than one year before.

"Wagyu is not selling even at reduced prices," said a meat manager at a Tokyo supermarket. One cattle raiser also said it is very unusual for wagyu beef prices to fall in December.

In Japan, wagyu beef prices tend to remain high in the month of December, when many people tend to eat sukiyaki -- a braised beef, vegetables and raw egg dish -- with their families during the year-end and New Year holidays.

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Source: Nikkei Asian Review

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