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Price of U.S. beef now double 2020 prices

  • May 26, 2021
  • , Nikkei , p. 19
  • JMH Translation

The price of imported meat, often used in the food service industry, is rising. U.S. beef has skyrocketed, and wholesale prices are about twice those of the summer of 2020. Prices of pork and chicken are also rising. Demand is increasing in China, where economic activity has rapidly resumed after the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the U.S., where the vaccination program is moving forward. Domestic demand has been sluggish due to lagging vaccination and the slow economic recovery. Restaurants have begun to consider how to deal with rising costs.


The wholesale price of U.S. beef ribs (short plate), used by barbecue and beef bowl restaurants, is currently around 1,050 yen per kilogram (frozen products, delivered in bulk to major customers), an increase of 43% compared with the beginning of March 2021. The price has nearly doubled from the low of around 590 yen during July-September 2020, during which demand was sluggish due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Most U.S. short plate was once exported to Japan, but demand is expanding in China and other countries for use in hot pots and grilled meat. In particular, exports to China increased 3.7-fold in 2020 compared with the previous year. Because consumption has recovered, shipments have converged on the U.S. west coast, with delays in loading cargo onto container ships.


The increase in beef demand also affected prices of Australian products. The wholesale price of Australian frozen beef (cow meat), used for minced meat such as hamburger, was around 790 yen per kilogram as of the latter half of May 2021, 20% higher than in early March 2021.


Demand in the U.S. is also strong and “suddenly started to rise,” according to a Japanese import trading company. It is now said that the suspension of exports from Argentina has created demand for Australian products as an alternative. This is regarded as a key factor boosting the market. (Abridged)

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