Lean beef sees surge in popularity among Japan’s health-conscious

by

Kyodo

Demand for lean cuts of beef is rising in Japan as consumers become increasingly health-conscious.

“When I find savory-looking lean beef at a supermarket, I cannot resist buying it,” Yukiko Otsuka, a 40-year-old housewife in Yokohama said.

“As the fat content of lean beef is low, my husband, 6-year-old son and even 2-year-old daughter eat it so much,” she said.

Demand for lean or muscular beef has been stimulated in part by a website operated by Ebara Foods Industry Inc., a leading maker of barbecue sauces, after it introduced recipes developed with nutritionists and other experts.

Otsuka’s favorite dish from the website is beef tataki, or sliced beef seared at a low temperature.

Inexpensive prices for lean beef are another reason for its growing popularity.

Lean beef is rich in various vitamins and minerals such as B6 and zinc, both of which contribute to the synthesis of protein and slows the process of aging, said Hidemi Sato, a visiting professor at Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University. It is also rich in L-carnitine, an element that promotes the burning of fat.

Lean beef is good for older people who tend to be undernourished and women on a diet, Sato said.

Along with the growth of demand for lean beef, sauces marketed by Ebara last August that come in plastic sachets are selling well.

The Aeon retail group is promoting lean beef from cows raised at its own farms in Tasmania, an Australian island state.

“We recognize that demand for lean beef has been increasing in recent years, especially among women and elderly people,” said Akira Kenmotsu, the manager in charge at Aeon Retail Co.

The company gives demonstrations on easy ways to cook lean beef at its supermarkets and other outlets.

Sales of lean beef from Tasmania jumped 2.5 times in 2014 from 2011 and scored a sharp increase in 2015 as well, according to Kenmotsu. In particular, 500- to 600-gram cuts are proving popular.

While cows are usually raised on grass in Australia, Aeon feeds them grain to make their meat more palatable for Japanese customers.

“We will further promote tasty and inexpensive imported lean beef,” Kenmotsu said.