Even though restaurants remain open in Japan, a lot of people are choosing to eat at home in an effort to help limit the potential spread of the coronavirus. For many of us, that means instant ramen, canned tuna, and other cheap staples with long shelf lives, but Japan’s hunkering-down home menus might soon get an influx of free wagyu (Japanese cattle) beef.
Japan’s domestic beef producers have been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. Beef itself is commonly eaten in Japan, but most of the meat used by the country’s beef bowl and hamburger chains, as well as home chefs, is imported. The economics of raising cattle in Japan have made wagyu beef a premium, high-price ingredient, something to eat on special occasions. With people increasingly practicing social distancing, though, fewer groups of friends and coworkers are going out to celebrate achievements and milestones at fancy restaurants, and fewer people are hosting get-togethers in their homes. Then there’s the fact that Japan’s inbound domestic tourism has plummeted since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, meaning the demand from foreign foodies who were coming with wagyu on their to-eat list is gone too.
The result is an excess supply of wagyu beef, and the Liberal Democratic Party’s Agriculture and Forestry Committee wants to put it in the people’s hands, and then their stomachs. The committee proposing that the Japanese government issue vouchers that people can exchange for wagyu beef, hopefully giving wagyu providers an economic boost and people stuck at home the bliss of a gourmet meal. The proposal is one of many Japanese politicians are currently mulling to help soften the negative effects of the coronavirus on the economy, with proponents asserting that vouchers which can be exchanged for goods are the best choice, since if people are given a direct stimulus payment, they might choose to simply pocket the yen without buying anything.
In order to go into effect, the free wagyu beef plan will require approval from the Diet, though it’s safe to assume it would be more than acceptable to the Japanese diet.
Source: Yahoo! Japan News/The Japan Agricultural News via Itai News
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