The price of fillet cuts of U.S. beef, which are used mainly for steak, is decreasing. Trading companies’ beef fillet import prices are 10% lower compared with early March 2020 prices. The rapid fall in U.S. restaurant demand due to the spread of infection of the new coronavirus has been a blow. There continues to be a slump in the Japanese food service industry as well, and imports are not expected to increase.
The import price of U.S. beef fillets (tenderloin) is 3,350 yen per 1 kilogram, the lowest in 6 years and 4 months.
U.S. steakhouses also buy high-end beef fillets. Although people have been stockpiling groceries with the stay-at-home orders, sales of beef fillets have not benefited from the boost because fillets are rarely sold in supermarkets.
With the weakening demand in the U.S., American exporters are promoting their products to Japanese trading companies by lowering prices.
In Japan, there is also sluggish consumption in hotels and restaurants, which are the main buyers of beef fillets. Yu Oana, head of the beef department at Sojitz Foods Corporation, notes that beef fillets have a “high unit price and are not eaten often in Japan,” and says that even though current prices are relatively low, Sojitz Foods does not plan to increase its imports [of beef fillets].