Where’s the (cheap) beef?

April 9th, 2010 by Philip Brasor & Masako Tsubuku

Yoshinoya: Blink and the campaign is over

Yoshinoya: Blink and the campaign is over

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who is presently in Japan to restart talks on beef imports, might be heartened by the gyudon (beef bowl) war going on in the fast food sector. All three of the big gyudon chains are fighting a bloody battle for market share. Yoshinoya has the most at stake. The food service company had projected a ¥1.3 billion loss for the last quarter that ended up being an ¥8.9 billion loss, the largest since the company went public in1990.

This week all three chains announced cheaper prices for their basic beef bowl (nami-mori). Matsuya reduced its product by ¥70 to ¥250, while Sukiya, the industry leader, cut its gyudon from ¥280 to ¥250.

The savings won’t last forever. Matsuya’s shinseikatsu oen (“new life” for new company employees) campaign will end April 23, while Sukiya’s is only until April 21. Yoshinoya’s is even shorter. It ends April 13.

On a related note, the sanuki udon (wheat noodle) chain Hanamaru, which has been discussed in this blog before, is also having a bargain campaign for regular “users.” Between April 7 and 16, outlets will be selling a limited number of teiki-ken (limited time passes) fashioned after public transportation passes. The passes cost ¥500 and are good until May 15. During the effective period, the pass will get you ¥105 off any udon dish in the store, which means you have to use it at least five times between now and May 15 to get your money’s worth.

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