Sales of the premium beef are also expected to increase 300% in 2018, according to Middle East Fuji
Middle East Fuji has achieved 500 percent sales growth in terms of its distribution of premium Japanese Kobe beef in the UAE in 2017 compared to 2016, according to figures by managing director Ryusaku Hayashi.
While the firm imported only one carcass of Kobe beef to the UAE last year, it brought five whole carcasses to the country in 2017. Hayashi believes the number could triple in 2018 as demand for the beef rises. It currently retails at an average $462 (AED1,700) per kilogram.
“We are now targeting to achieve 300% of our 2017 figures in 2018 and then further double it in 2019. It is of course an ambitious target, but we believe it is achievable,” he tells Arabian Business.
Hayashi says the strongest markets for the product in the region are the UAE and Oman, while Saudi Arabia remains a difficult destination for exporting Kobe beef to due to halal certification restrictions.
“We were waiting for Kobe beef to have Halal certification for many years. Only in 2016 did we could get all clearances and approval from Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) and immediately imported the first consignment,” he says, estimating that it might take a while longer for the Saudi Market to approve the beef.
For now, the firm is working on raising awareness on the health benefits of Kobe beef, which will simultaneously increase demand.
As the product is premium and niche, Middle East Fuji is limiting its offerings to high end specialty restaurant and direct VIP customers.