Business

Japan supermarkets woo customers with cheaper U.S. foods after trade deal

JIJI

With the Japan-U.S. trade agreement going into force on Jan. 1, major Japanese supermarkets have started slashing prices on U.S. products affected by the tariff cuts in a bid to attract customers.

Ito-Yokado Co. launched a six-day sale at some 130 outlets on Wednesday, lowering the prices on nine items, including the price of U.S. Angus loin steak by over 10 percent and oranges by 10 to 20 percent.

Aeon Retail Co. will reduce the prices of some U.S. beef products by 10 percent from Thursday. It also plans to start a sale on kiwi fruit and other products.

Seijo Ishii Co., which offers a variety of imported foods, will hold a sale on U.S. wines and nuts from Friday.

“We can eat big steaks as prices go down,” a shopper said.

While hoping to leverage the reduced tariffs to attract customers, supermarket operators are concerned about an escalation in price wars.

“We don’t want to enter into price wars,” said a senior official of a supermarket operator with some 100 outlets in the eastern areas of the Kanto region, noting that U.S. beef has already been priced at low levels and that its profit margin is low.