Wagyu beef is growing in popularity and there are few signs of it slowing. In 2021, the global Wagyu market was worth more than $11 billion. This was a banner year as Japan exported around 8,000 tons of the gourmet beef cut. Now, the global market is expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 6 percent–making it worth an estimated $16 billion by 2028. The food industry is being impacted by inflation, supply chain issues, and climate change, but Wagyu appears to be weathering the storm. From steak to high-priced burgers, the revered protein is becoming more commonly consumed. Here are the factors driving Wagyu’s popularity: The luxury hospitality sector Known for its tenderness and buttery, umami flavor, Wagyu has been a fine-dining favorite since the 2010s–when Japan lifted its export ban to the United States and European countries. Luxury establishments like restaurants and hotels are still fueling the Wagyu beef market today. While some lucky customers can find Wagyu in high-end grocery and specialty stores, the market is sustained by a business-to-business model–particularly with fine dining. A large majority, 85 percent, of Wagyu sales are B2B. As a testament to the importance of B2B commerce, it’s not uncommon for a Wagyu brand to partner with luxury

Over the past year, the Consumer Price Index has risen 6 percent, with the highest peak at 9.1 percent in June last year–the biggest increase since November 1981. Consumers are feeling the brunt of inflation prices, and it is particularly impacting eating out and drinking habits. According to a recent Morning Consult report, more than half of Americans say they’re changing the ways they eat and drink due to inflation. Restaurants continue to take a hit Restaurants face myriad challenges from supply chain shortages, double-digit food inflation, wage increases and higher operating costs, to name a few. And it is no surprise that to keep their doors open, they are raising prices for consumers. But, as consumers look to save their pennies in the current economy, restaurants appear to be the first to get cut. According to the same Morning Consult report, all generations and income levels are equally likely to eat out less to reduce spending over other behaviors. This trend doesn’t just stop at dining in. Americans are also ordering less takeout and fewer restaurant deliveries. This also holds for previously to-go-loving millennials. In 2021, 49 percent of this generation reported dining out at least once a week. In 2023, that number dropped to 40 percent. The