The auspicious date has been identified thanks to Japanese people’s love of play on words: both the ninth day of the second month and meat can be pronounced ‘niku’ (‘ni-kyuu’ for the numbers and ‘niku’ for meat).
“Meat Day is a boon as meat producers are able to prepare more meat for increased consumption,” said a senior meat processor manager. “It’s particularly important for producers and suppliers of high-grade beef because big discounts will trigger sales among new target markets.”
Meat Day has an extensive following from all of sectors of Japanese society. While families and older people tend to opt for half-price discounts at supermarkets and restaurants, online deals and events are popular among young people and couples. Meat consumption even peaks in primary schools, as lunches on 9 February largely feature favourites such as beef, pork and chicken. Each year, particularly with the proliferation of social media, the day’s popularity increases.
For instance, in 2017, the Yoyogi Bar in central Tokyo will offer an all-you-can-eat meat event on Meat Day for the first time. A spokesperson said that, at almost 70 bookings by 6 February, the event was attracting much more interest than expected. The bar has ordered in bulk from its meat supplier, and plans to host a similar event next year if the event is a success.
Popular grilled meat chain Gyu-Kaku is advertising a special campaign from 9-28 February, with 29 kinds of coupons to entice patrons to enjoy its meat. These include discounts for students, party groups, online reservations and point collectors.
Meanwhile, Yahoo’s e-commerce wing is offering half-price deals over the same period on online orders of ribs, skirt steak and fatty pork, such as cheek, neck and shoulder.
The Meat Guy
Sam Tumeh, operations manager at online retailer The Meat Guy, however, believes the lion’s share of the day’s business will go to supermarkets and restaurants. It is expecting no major boom in sales because its meat is delivered frozen, its non-Japanese customer base does not celebrate the day and B2B sales will be less profitable due to discounts expected by consumers. Nevertheless, it will offer 10% off all its products.
Although industry insiders are excited at the anticipated peak in sales from Meat Day, most have their sights on preparing innovative campaigns for the next leap year because 29 February is “the most special day for meat”, traditionally in Japan – again because of the combination of two and nine of that day. Given the rising demand for meat across Japan year-on-year, 29 February 2020, may inspire a record consumption of meat.