Fast-food company Yoshinoya Holdings Co. said Tuesday it will raise the price of its signature beef bowl dish — long a symbol of the deflationary economy — for the first time in 24 years due to higher import costs.
The move marks a much-needed win for the Bank of Japan, which is struggling to achieve its 2 percent inflation target after two decades of falling prices. Reversing the deflation trend and reviving consumption is key to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy to jump-start the economy.
Yoshinoya, in the beef-bowl business for 115 years, said it will raise the price of its regular-size “gyudon” dish by 27 percent to ¥380 on Dec. 17, citing a spike in U.S. beef prices and the yen’s sharp depreciation against the dollar.
The price will rise to ¥550 from ¥460 for a large bowl, and to ¥680 from ¥560 for an extra-large bowl.
Gyudon is a bowl of rice topped with sauteed beef and onions that is a favorite of Japan’s penny-pinching corporate employees, and thus an informal measure of consumer prices.
It will be the first pure price hike for the dish since March 1990, excluding an adjustment to prices in April to reflect the increase in the consumption tax to 8 percent, a company spokesman said.
The price hike will be welcome news for the BOJ, which eased monetary policy further in late October to counter the deflationary effect of slumping oil prices and weak domestic demand.
Oil prices have fallen 15 percent since then, likely putting the inflation target further out of reach.
Some policymakers at the BOJ now fear that core consumer inflation will slow to about 0.5 percent by the middle of next year, down from May’s peak of 1.4 percent.