Why Japan is reinforcing the Wagyu brand

Japan reinforces its global Wagyu brand


Stock and Land Beef
WAGYU CHAMPION: Specialist meat cutter and chef Hiroki Samata from Japan's Federal Meat Academy at the National Competitive Exhibition of Wagyu in Sendai, Japan.

WAGYU CHAMPION: Specialist meat cutter and chef Hiroki Samata from Japan's Federal Meat Academy at the National Competitive Exhibition of Wagyu in Sendai, Japan.

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Japanese beef producers are driving the thinking that genuine Wagyu beef can only be produced in Japan.

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A MAJOR push is underway to reinforce Wagyu beef produced in Japan as a premium global brand. 

Labelled 'Japan Wagyu Beef' the branding campaign is driving the thinking that genuine Wagyu beef meets exacting quality specifications.

In addition to those grading standards, they include that the prized beef it is produced only in Japan, from animals bred, born and processed in Japan, and must be from at least threee generations of pedigreed breeding.

Wagyu beef is big business.

Wagyu beef is big business.

The branding campaign is in part being driven by the growing global demand for high-end Wagyu. Japan is now exporting about 2000 tonnes a year to high end markets, particularly Hong Kong.

The branding was highly visible at the National Competitive Exhibition of Wagyu in Sendai, Japan, where specialist meat cutter and chef Hiroki Samata was demonstrating his considerable skills with the knife. 

Mr Samata said Japanese produced Wagyu deserved special recognition because it was a superior product based on its marbling and the lower melting point of that marbling. 

Cattle on show at the National Competitive Exhibition of Wagyu in Sendai, Japan.

Cattle on show at the National Competitive Exhibition of Wagyu in Sendai, Japan.

While acknowledging the quality of Wagyu beef produced in other countries including Australia, Japanese product was better.

“It’s just the best,” he said.

Wagyu beef retailing for Yen980/100 grams (about A$11/100g - $111/kg) in a Japanese supermarket in Kyoto.

Wagyu beef retailing for Yen980/100 grams (about A$11/100g - $111/kg) in a Japanese supermarket in Kyoto.

Questions about Wagyu production in Australia clearly troubled some Japanese farmers, who are fiercely resisting the release of any additional Wagyu genetics from Japan.

One breeder summed up the prevailing mood saying it was good for the industry that there was more Wagyu product available globally.

A 523kg top Grade 12/A5 Wagyu carcase which sold for Yen11,000 (about A$126/kg) to return an amazing A$66,000 at the Sendai auction.

A 523kg top Grade 12/A5 Wagyu carcase which sold for Yen11,000 (about A$126/kg) to return an amazing A$66,000 at the Sendai auction.

However, it was difficult for Japanese farmers to feel good about other countries producing their unique product.

“Of course we also recognise there are many Japanese companies in Australia (producing Wagyu),” he said.

The story Why Japan is reinforcing the Wagyu brand first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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