'Kobe beef' sells for $11 a kilo online, consumers dubious

By Thi Ha   March 26, 2024 | 04:00 pm PT
'Kobe beef' sells for $11 a kilo online, consumers dubious
Australian aukobe beef sold online. Photo courtesy of beef store
Some online stores are selling what they claim to be Kobe beef, the premium Japanese variety that usually costs VND6-15 million (US$242-605) per kilogram, for a mere VND280,000 ($11).

Le Thu, a seller in Hanoi, said she had imported two shipments of the meat to fulfill large orders.

"The beef is cut into neat 250-gram portions that look very appealing. It is also cheaper than other imported beef. So families who enjoy a good steak are very fond of it.

"Previously Kobe beef was rare because there was very little imported. Now customers can order as much as they want at a cheap price."

Mai Anh of HCMC advertised that the meat originally cost VND600,000 but is currently sold at a 50% discount.

At that price, her "Kobe beef" is even cheaper than American beef.

The businesses claim it is genuine Japanese Kobe beef imported in large quantities from various countries, and hence the low price.

"This meat is of high quality and delicious, the cheap price is because of the large supply," Anh said, adding she sold over two tons in the past week.

But consumers are not so easily convinced.

Lien of HCMC’s Tan Phu District is shocked to see such a cheap price, even if it was thanks to a 50% discount.

"I am doubtful about the quality because I have never bought it at this price."

Many others have also raised similar concerns.

Some who bought it remarked that the meat quickly falls apart when thawed and cooked, and its quality is not like the beef they buy at specialized Japanese supermarkets.

Nguyen Thi Loan, the owner of a chain of imported beef stores in HCMC, said the cheap "Kobe beef" sold on the market is actually "aukobe" beef imported from Australia.

This is officially imported at VND600,000-800,000 per kilogram.

But consumers should exercise caution since beef sold at VND200,000 is probably is close to expiration date, she said.

Aukobe beef is produced by injecting fat into the meat to artificially create the marbling the authentic Kobe beef from Japan naturally has thanks to a special cattle raising process and unique diet.

Kobe beef from Japan is one of the most expensive types in the world.

In Vietnam, it is imported from Japan in very small quantities by legitimate importers and sold at millions of dong per kilogram, with the best cuts costing as much as VND18 million.

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