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Get premium Japanese beef for ‘cheap’ in Vietnam

By Hong Chau   December 20, 2018 | 02:10 am PT
Get premium Japanese beef for ‘cheap’ in Vietnam
Vietnamese businesses race to raise Japanese cattle. Photo by VnExpress
Vietnamese businesses are racing to raise upmarket Japanese cattle at home to produce cheaper Wagyu beef.

Beef from cattle raised in Vietnam is 2-4 times cheaper than imported ones.

Two years ago, Huy Long An Limited Company in the southern province of Long An imported thousands of Wagyu cattle, from which the famous Japanese beef is produced.

Vo Quang Huy, the company’s director, said his company has signed a deal with Japan’s Sawai Farm to develop a farming model for Wagyu beef in Vietnam.

"We are selling the beef on a trial basis to hotels and restaurants. The product will hit the markets in 2019, when production is stabilised. Although it’s difficult to raise them (Wagyu) in Vietnam, they’re worth a lot," Huy said.

He said a kilo of Wagyu beef can sell for VND700,000 ($30) to VND1 million ($42.84) a kilogram.

Like the Huy Long An company, the Kobe Beef Vietnam company has also been breeding Wagyu cattle in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong. Nguyen Tri Vu, general director of the company, said he imported genetic material for the Japanese breed from the U.S.

The company is currently rearing 420 cows, and on average sells one every week. Each cow is worth VND200-250 million ($8,567- 10,708), many times higher than that of other cow breeds in the market today. Each kilogram of ‘Viet Wagyu’ sells for VND2-4 million ($85.67- 171.34) per kilogram.

"This beef is mostly sold to restaurants, hotels and gourmets, mainly in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Lat. This is a premium breed. It costs VND150,000 ($6.43) a day to feed one cow. They are also fed some materials that have to be imported, hence the high price," Vu said.

Local beef now costs from VND100,000-500,000 ($4.4-22.02) per kilogram.

Other Japanese farms have also announced their intention to start raising cattle in Vietnam.

Speaking on the potential of the market, an agriculture expert said that demand for Japanese beef was increasing, but among those with high earnings.

Import prices are relatively high, with the cheapest around VND1 million (($42.84)) per kilogram and the most expensive nearly VND19 million ($815.89), and the average ones at VND9 million ($386.47) per kilogram. On the other hand, beef from cattle raised in Vietnam have very competitive prices.

However, if the local breeders do not establish good brands, they could lose market share to products of no clear origin, he said

Vietnam’s cattle industry is failing to meet the country's increasing demand for beef, forcing local consumers to turn to imported products, the expert added.

Last year, the country imported more than 262,300 live cattle, and nearly 42,000 tons of beef and buffalo meat valued at more than $410 million, according to the Animal Husbandry Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The deputy director of the department, Tong Xuan Chinh, said Vietnamese people’s diets have changed drastically in recent years, and they're now eating more beef and buffalo meat.

Average consumption has doubled to 5-6 kilograms of beef and buffalo meat per year in the past decade, but the cattle industry has been unable to keep up with the rise in demand. Local supplies of beef and buffalo meat only meet 80 percent of the current demand, he said.

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