Meat from cattle up to 30 months old now sold in Japan

Feb 22, 2013
by DTN

Sales of U.S. beef from cattle aged up to 30 months started here Feb. 16.

Holding company Seven & I Holdings imported 3 tons of meat from U.S. cattle aged up to 30 months for sale at its Ito-Yokado and York-Benimaru supermarket chains. Three Ito-Yokado stores in Tokyo started sales Feb. 16, with two York-Benimaru stores in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, and one in Koriyama, Tochigi Prefecture, following suit the next day, Jiji Press reported.

U.S. beef will retail for around 20 percent to 50 percent less than when it was restricted to meat from cattle aged only up to 20 months. For example, a 100-gram package of U.S sirloin was being sold for 278 yen ($3) at the three Ito-Yokado stores, 30 percent less than last month’s average price of 398 yen ($4.30), according to Jiji.

Seven & I Holdings plans to sell the older U.S. beef at all its stores by March. “It is said that the older the cattle is, the better the beef tastes,” a company public relations official said, Jiji reported.

The Seiyu and Daiei supermarket chains also intend to begin selling older U.S. beef soon, Jiji reported.

Japan banned beef from the U.S. and Canada in 2003 because of BSE. Beef from both countries started coming back in 2006, limited to meat from cattle aged 20 months or younger as an anti-BSE measure. The limit went up to 30 months Feb. 1. — Richard Smith, DTN Tokyo Correspondent