Why Is Wagyu Beef So Expensive?
If you’re a meat eater, you might have definitely heard of Wagyu beef and its fabled price tag. Wagyu beef is a special Japanese breed of beef cattle, The phrase is quite literal: “Wa” means Japanese and “gyu” means cow. So basically, a Japanese cow.
But what makes the Wagyu so special ? And why does this meat commands such high prices in restaurants and supermarkets?In short the eye watering price tag is all about the intense, fat marbling in the meat, which is what gives it the rich flavour. And a good quality, high grade piece of Wagyu will simply melt in your mouth. It is extremely tender and comes with a buttery soft flavour.
The rearing method is what makes this beef expensive. In Japan, to qualify for the Wagyu mark, the cattle have to be reared and fed according to strict guidelines. Breeding cattle and pregnant cows are grazed on pasture while calves are fed in a specific way, with special feed, to ensure that the meat has a lot of marbling.
Young Wagyu calves are fed a milk replacer by hand and they get jackets to wear when the weather gets cold. They stay on a farm until they are seven months old before they are sent to auction to be sold off to fattening farms. On the fattening farms, Wagyu cattle are raised in barns and are given names instead of just a number. They are kept on a diet of rice straws, whole crop silage and concentrate, and allowed to grow up to about 700kg, which takes about three years (for normal beef, it’s 15 months).
Every single cow has a birth certificate, which identifies its bloodline, so every piece of Japanese Wagyu steak can be traced back to a farm! Now that's attention to details. Another reason for the cost is that there are a lot of tariffs and quotas on Japanese imports so it can be difficult to source the beef.
Fancy a delicate wagyu steak at the date tonight ? Impress your partner with the wagyu story. If they aren't already impressed with the price that is.