Ostrich meat is becoming popular again, mainly among women, for its low fat content and high nutrition.
“Online sales are on track to quadruple in December from a year before,” said Erika Kato, representative of Queen’s Ostrich & Gibier, based in Chikusei, Ibaraki Prefecture.
The growing popularity of game meat is believed to be encouraging more consumers to try alternatives to pork and chicken, sources familiar with the situation said.
Queen’s Ostrich & Gibier runs a wide range of restaurants offering Japanese, Chinese, French and other types of cuisine.
Misato Ostrich Farm, a supplier to Queen’s Ostrich & Gibier that is based in Misato, Saitama Prefecture, sells meat harvested from ostriches raised only on pesticide-free feed.
The red meat, high in iron, helps prevent anemia and is also rich in a substance that helps accelerate recovery from physical exhaustion, as muscles in migratory birds and fish do.
The Kagoshima Prefectural Ostrich Business Cooperative Association, known as Ko-Coop, plans to provide its meat to boxer Sho Kimura, the World Boxing Organization’s flyweight champ, and others.
“Ostrich meat is fit for athletes,” said Katsutoshi Ando, who heads the co-op. The group is active in the livestock industry.
During the previous boom, Japan raised nearly 10,000 ostriches before watching the level tumble below 1,900 in 2013. But production has since recovered and topped 2,100 in 2016.
“My goal is to reach 10,000 in 10 years in Kagoshima Prefecture alone,” Ando said.
Ostrich meat is now as expensive as premium wagyu but is expected to fall if consumption grows.
“Stable supply is essential. Costs should be reduced through cooperation with game meat processing operators,” Kato said.