Kobe beef sales rose in the UAE in 2017

Middle East Fuji LLC exhibited the gold medallist of Japanese-branded kobe beef at Gulfood 2018
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Ryusaki Hayashi
ITP Images
Ryusaki Hayashi

With Kobe beef sales having risen in the UAE during 2017, 2018 also promises to see further growth in its sales.

Middle East Fuji LLC managing director Ryusaku Hayashi said in a statement: "Kobe beef sales have risen 500% in UAE during 2017 and are also expected to increase 300% in 2018. We believe the number could triple in 2018 as demand for the beef rises."

While the firm imported only one carcass of Kobe beef to the UAE in 2016, it brought five whole carcasses to the country in 2017. It currently retails at an average US $462 (AED1,700) per kilogramme.

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Speaking to Caterer Middle East, he said: "Although Kobe beef was existing and popular globally for many decades, it was not available in Middle East due to the halal requirement." He revealed that the slaughter houses obtained the halal certification for Kobe beef in 2016, by making amendments to the facilities and process by spending millions of dollars to comply with the strict halal requirements.

Hayashi continued: "This shows the commitment from the producers in Japan for the Middle East market."

Now that the beef has received its certification, Hayashi said the challenge is to create awareness about the product. Other challenges, he said, are also product-related; he explained: "Also, customers sometime believe wagyu from different countries are same as Japanese wagyu, which is unfortunately not correct. Thus, changing the perception about wagyu and also Kobe beef in people’s mind is important.

"We are also creating awareness why Kobe beef is so exclusive and therefore expensive when compared with other meat available in the market due to its rarity and very strict requirements to become Kobe beef."

The company hopes to be able to export to Saudi Arabia soon. Currently, its strongest markets for Kobe beef in the region are the UAE and Oman.

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