JAPAN - With gyudon beef rice bowl outlets saturating the market and the high cost of ingredients squeezing margins, three major companies are reportedly taking different approaches for the 2014 Japanese financial year April 2014 to March 2015.
Meat and Livestock Australia said that leading foodservice group Zensho will open 85 sushi train outlets in Japan during the JFY 2014, as well as 60 Sukiya gyudon restaurants, according to Gaishoku Sokuho.
There have already been almost 2,000 Sukiya outlets nationwide, reportedly creating competition among the chain.
The company had previously opened over 100 new Sukiya eateries every year, but reduced its numbers to around 60 last JFY.
Another top tier gyudon operator, Matsuya Foods, currently has over 1,000 gyudon outlets, and will also reinforce its focus on non-gyudon business, by adding 30 tonkatsu (Japanese style pork cutlet) restaurants in 2014/15.
On the other hand, the gyudon pioneer, Yoshinoya, is said to be taking an opposite direction, opening more outlets than the previous financial year, with an aim to operate 1,213 stores by the end of the term.
While their strategies differ, the increasing cost of ingredients is a common issue across the businesses, on the back of strong beef prices and the weak yen.
During the first three months of 2014, the average import value of frozen US beef rose 35 per cent compared with the same period in 2003, to 410 yen/kg.
Frozen Australian beef, surged 74 per cent, to 380 yen/kg. the price of gyudon, in comparison, has virtually remained unchanged since 2003, at around 300 yen per bowl.
TheMeatSite News Desk