TOKYO -- Ito-Yokado will ramp up production of house-brand Japanese beef, with plans to use the meat in processed foods starting in fiscal 2015.
This marks the supermarket chain's latest effort to expand its array of private-label food items to appeal to consumers conscious about food safety and quality.
Ito-Yokado, in collaboration with meat giant S Foods, raises beef cattle at a dedicated 270,000 sq. meter ranch in Tono, Iwate Prefecture. When the cattle reach the age of 30 months or so, their meat is sold at Ito-Yokado stores under a private label.
The ranch currently raises 2,000 cattle, shipping 50 a month to Ito-Yokado. The goal is to increase these figures to 3,000 and 80 in fiscal 2015.
A processing plant will be set up within the ranch, with the site likely to span 2,000 sq. meters. S Foods will run the facility, making such items as Salisbury steak, boil-in-bag curry, and grilled-beef skewers using the meat.
The plant will be capable of making 500,000 Salisbury steaks a year. Ito-Yokado seeks to enhance the added value of the products by using local ingredients for condiments and seasoning.
The firm plans to set up similar cattle ranches starting in fiscal 2014 in Kagoshima Prefecture and elsewhere, with a goal of eventually raising the share of house-brand beef in its overall Japanese-beef sales to 80%.