How Much Does Kobe Beef Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 14, 2018

Kobe beef, known for its rich flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture, can be found at most higher end steakhouses and some online specialty butchers.  Also known as Wagyu,” which means Japanese cow, comes from the Wagyu cattle that are primarily raised in the Hyogo region of Japan, but in some cases, this cattle can be found in some parts of the United States.

While there’s no such thing as Kobe beef as it’s the shipping point from somewhere in Japan, what’s known as “Kobe beef” will come from the province of Tajima, now named Hyogo Prefecture, where Kobe is currently the capital.

Japan2015_Kobe-Beef by tc_manasan, on Flickr
Japan2015_Kobe-Beef” (CC BY 2.0) by  tc_manasan

 How much does Kobe beef cost per pound?

The estimated price, depending on where you purchase it and the type, can start at $90 per pound and rise from there.  Your authentic Japanese Kobe will almost always be double that of an American Kobe beef.

All beef won’t be created equally, even if it coins the term.

In Japan, it’s not too uncommon to see beef as high as $300 per pound, but if you were to find it at a local grocery store with a lower grade score on a mass scale, as we explain later on in this guide, then it could be as little as $30 to $40 per pound.  At this rate, again, it will be mass produced and will come from cattle inside the United States, not Japan.  For instance, a four pack of six-ounce Kobe Beef filets retails for $208 at Sam’s Club.

American Wagyu beef with a score of eight to nine or higher can often command prices inside the $100 to $150 per pound range, for example.

Costco, for example, at the time of this writing, offered three Wagyu options at its local locations.  An 11-pound Japanese Wagyu New York Strip Loin Roast, for example, retailed for $1,099 or $100 per pound, while a 13-pound Japanese Wagyu Boneless Ribeye Roast retails for a bit less at $92 per pound.

This CNN Money article, for instance, claimed Kobe beef as one of the world’s priciest foods, with prices starting at $150.  In this same article, one butcher was interviewed and he claimed the costs at his butcher shop can start at $110 for a Japanese variety and half of that if it were for the American Kobe.

If you were to purchase it at a local steakhouse, keep in mind that it can only be available at select restaurants in the country.  If you were to find it, however, most dishes, at least from what we researched, were about $375 per plate.  The Japan Guide Book says it’s not too uncommon to see a plate retailing for $500 at some dining places.




Kobe beef overview

Wagyu beef can come from four types of cattle:  either the Japanese Brown, Japanese Black, Japanese Shorthorn or Japanese Poll.  Unlike traditional meat from other cows, Wagyu cattle will feed on sake or beer, and coupled with the cow’s DNA, it can produce beef that’s known to be buttery, tender and wonderfully marbled.  Kobe beef will contain more omega-3s and is higher in monounsaturated fats.

With the beef you’re used to buying the grocery store, you’re probably familiar with the phrases USDA Prime, Choice and Select — the top three qualities the USDA uses to grade the quality of the beef.  The USDA grading is based on the density of the marbling between the 12th and the 13th beef rib; however, the Wagyu’s beef will be determined by a 12-point marbling scale.  Using certain marbling scores, the USDA prime, if Wagyu beef were to receive this rating, would have a score in the five to six range, according to Lobels.com.  The most prized beef, and costliest, would rank as a 12, meaning the marbling would be so dense that the muscle to marbling could reach a nine to one ratio.  In order to achieve this high ratio, wagy must have at least 25 percent marbled fat.

What are the extra costs?

If you were to purchase from an online butcher, then you may need to pay extra for the expediting fees.

Tips to know:

This infographic on Fine Dining Lovers states that out of 1.3 billion cattle in the world, only 3,000 are certified as Kobe each year.

All Kobe beef is Wagyu, but not all Wagyu beef will be Kobe.  To be known as Kobe, the cattle has to be raised in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture and the production must conform to standards within this region.  Beef production in Japan is similar to that of wine production in France.   With many regions where the beef can be produced, each region can produce a different “kind” of beef.


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