We all know that the harsh economic conditions have affected wine buying. But it also has had a negative effect on Saké exports and imports. In 2009, for the first time in the past nine years, Japanese exports of Saké decreased, by approximately 1.7%. Saké imports to the U.S. decreased by about 7%, which hopefully will rebound in 2010.
What is the most telling statistic is that the monetary value of Japanese Saké exports decreased by approximately 6.4%. So, it seems that the decrease in exports included mostly more expensive Saké. The conclusion seems to be that people are generally buying less expensive Saké, which is very similar to the wine situation. People are still buying wine, just buying cheaper wines than they usually buy. It is a logical conclusion based on this rough economy.
So wine stores, to continue selling Saké, need to make sure they are stocking more value Saké, less expensive brews which won't hit consumers' wallets too much. Restaurants need to consider these facts too.
I was outraged this past week to see a local Japanese restaurant selling a Saké for $37, when the usual retail is only $9! There is no rationale justification for a mark-up of 4 times the retail, especially when the restaurant pays even less than retail for that Saké. And in these economic times, most people are not going to pay $37 for a 300ml bottle of Saké.
For newcomers to want to try Saké, it must be affordably priced. Saké has enough obstacles, and price does not need to be another impediment.