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Japan’s beef bowl to get price hike

Japanese fast-food company Yoshinoya Holdings Co. said Dec. 9 it would raise the price of its signature beef bowl dish — long a symbol of the deflationary economy — for the first time in 24 years due to higher import costs.

The move marks a much-needed win for the central bank, which is struggling to achieve its two per cent inflation target after two decades of falling prices. Reversing the deflation trend and reviving consumption is key to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy to jump-start the world’s third-biggest economy.

Yoshinoya, operator of the 115-year-old beef bowl chain, said it would raise the price of its regular-size “gyuudon” dish by 27 per cent to 380 yen ($3) on Dec. 17, citing a spike in U.S. beef prices and the yen’s sharp depreciation against the dollar.

The “gyuudon” is a bowl of rice topped with sautéed beef and onions that is a favourite of Japan’s penny-pinching corporate employees, and thus an informal measure of consumer prices.

That would mark the first pure price hike for the dish since March 1990, excluding an adjustment to prices in April to reflect an increase in the national sales tax, a company spokesman said.

The price rise will be welcome news for the Bank of Japan, which eased monetary policy further in late October to counter the deflationary effect of slumping oil prices and weak domestic demand.

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