Japan restaurant chain Zenshoku began offering dishes using U.S. beef at its 57 barbecue restaurants in Tokyo and 11 of the Japan's 47 prefectures in early September. It's the first major restaurant chain in Japan to serve U.S. beef since Japan dropped its import ban on U.S. beef in late July.
One week later, Yoshinoya D&C Co. announced it would resume sales of “gyudon” dishes, a serving of hot rice topped with slices of U.S. beef, for the first time in 19 months — for one day only — on Sept. 18. The company will offer 1 million of the dishes at its outlets across Japan. Sources say the company will continue to limit beef bowl sales until it can secure a stable supply of U.S. beef. Yoshinoya has 1,010 outlets across Japan.
That same week, regional supermarket operator Nalx became the first retailer in the country to put U.S. beef back on its shelves at its eight branches in Kanazawa. Nalx is among five Japanese supermarket chains that have ordered U.S. beef through supermarket cooperative CGC Japan Co. Four other grocery chains are expected to soon start selling U.S. beef, the Kyodo News reported.
USDA expects almost $400 million in U.S. beef products to sell in Japan this fiscal year, which would be about a third of its export level to Japan before that island nation banned U.S. beef in December 2003.