Pictures: Inside Tokyo's famed beef market where 130,000 beef carcases sold each year
As part of its Trade Mission to Japan and South Korea, Bord Bia took Ireland's meat industry into the famed Metropolitan Central Wholesale market in Toyko.
The largest wholesale meat centre in Japan, the plant accounts for more than 130,000 beef carcases sold each year, plus 210,000 of pork.
The meat market commands a good price for farmers who travel up to 1,500km from locations such as Hokkaido (Northern Island) to the site which is located beside the headquarters of companies like Sony and Microsoft.
While some carcasses are transported in for sale, the site also houses an abattoir which processes around 90,000 cattle a year. Outside, the facility blends in with the architecture of its sky scraper surroundings and bears little resemblance to an equivalent site in Ireland.
Auctions start from 10am with about 30 producers and customer present, all chanting “Let’s Go” in Japanese as the carcasses roll forward for bidders to inspect and purchase.
Carcases can weigh anything from 400kg to even 600kg with the signature marbling intact. Graded and branded for meat quality and yield, the system uses a 22-point set of criteria, which is based on an A-C grade and meat quality of 1-5.
The topmost A5 carcass which weighed almost 500kg and represents a small proportion of their daily intake. The indicative price per kilo of which amounts to €20/kg (¥2,800) for the coveted A5 grade.
Some 25 meat and dairy companies are part of the Department-led trade mission that goes on to South Korea to promote Irish exports to the region.