According to The Nikkei Asian Review, the wholesale price of premium Japanese wagyu beef is nearing the record level of last December, based on comparable data that goes back to 1990.
The factors lifting the price are Japan's year-end gift-giving season, fewer cattle breeders and a chronic shortage of calves.
At the Tokyo Meat Market, the transaction price for premium A4 wagyu grew year on year for 28 consecutive months through October. Then in November, the average price was around 2,640 yen (US$23.42) per kilogram, 2% higher than last year.
December's average price is expected to exceed the record 2,700 yen per kilogram set a year ago.
In Osaka, too, the average price for A4 wagyu is currently above 2,700 yen per kilogram, 6% higher than last year.
There are even cases in Tokyo and Osaka in which the highest quality A5 wagyu exceeds 3,000 yen per kilogram.
Demand for high-quality beef has always been strong during Japan's year-end gift-giving season. This time around, however, demand is slowly waning due to the high price, according to the Tokyo Meat Market.
Distributors are starting to stock up on cheaper but high-quality non-Japanese beef. According to a major meat importer, Angus beef and Prime beef are gaining popularity.
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