According to reports, the waiting list for a box of frozen beef croquettes from a family-run business in Japan is 30 years. Customers who order a box of frozen Kobe beef croquettes from Asahiya, a butcher shop in the city of Takasago in western Japan, will have to wait three decades to receive their order, as per cnn.com. Although the beef croquettes were first introduced at the store in the years following World War II, they gained popularity in the early 2000s and became an internet sensation.
“We started selling our products through online shopping in 1999. At that time, we offered Extreme Croquettes as a trial.”explains Shigeru Nitta, third-generation owner of Asahiya
Asahiya was founded in 1926 and has been selling high-quality beef from local farms ever since. The croquettes are made fresh daily, preservative-free, from three-year-old female Kobe beef graded A5 and potatoes from a local farm. “We sold Extreme Croquettes at the price of JPY270 ($1.8) per piece… The beef in them alone costs about JPY400 ($2.7) per piece,” says Nitta. “We made affordable and tasty croquettes that demonstrate the concept of our shop as a strategy to have customers enjoy the croquettes and then hope that they would buy our Kobe beef after the first try.”
To limit the financial loss in the beginning, Asahiya only produced 200 croquettes in their own kitchen next to their shop each week.
“We sell the beef raised by the people we know.”Nitta told CNN
As their popularity skyrocketed, in 2016 the shop stopped selling them, „because the waiting time became over 14 years“. A year later, they resumed the orders with an increase in price, after the shop „got many calls requesting to keep offering them.” “At that time, we raised the price to JPY500 ($3.4)-JPY540 ($3.7) with consumption tax. But since the export of Kobe beef began, the prices of beef have doubled, so the fact that the production of croquettes makes a deficit has not changed,” says Nitta. Production has also been boosted from 200 croquettes a week to 200 croquettes per day.
Nowadays a box of Extreme Croquettes, which includes five pieces, sells for JPY2,700 ($18.40). As per Asahiya’s official website, the customers will have to wait for 32 years, if they order the croquettes today. Currently the ones receiving the croquettes have ordered them 10 years ago.