One of the tastiest kinds of beef today is Wagyu, well-known for its buttery, melt-in-your-mouth taste, everybody can’t say no to this piece of meat. With such delicious flavor comes a hefty price; indeed, something as good as this doesn’t come cheap. If you’re wondering why is wagyu beef so expensive, then you’ve come to the right page.
It All Comes Down to Breeding
Wagyu comes from cows, but not just any kind of cows. It’s a different breed that comes with a marbling gene, which is a unique DNA component. This gene needs to be activated; for that to happen, the cow must be raised in a stress-free environment. Each cattle is given individual care to ensure a happy and easy lifestyle. Moreover, these cows have a strict diet to ensure high muscle quality; thus producing delicious meat.
Young cattle are fed milk by hand and they grow up grazing an open pasture. The cows are raised by the breeder until ten months old. After that, the cows will be sent to a fattening farm.
In a fattening farm, the cows are kept in a small farm and fed a combination of fiber and high-energy concentrate. The feeds are expensive as they are made from rice, wheat, and hay until the animal reaches 50% fat.
Don’t get it wrong; the cows are encouraged to gain weight naturally and slowly. With that, you can guarantee that the cows are not fed hormones that can speed up the weight gain process. Besides a high quality of meat, their diet and lifestyle extends their life compared to conventional cows.
Moreover, you will be surprised to know that some cows even come with their own birth certificates. Rumor has it that other cows are even massaged and brushed to increase their blood circulation and reduce stress.
With all the costs that go into their care, there’s no wonder why wagyu beef cost a lot.
Conversely, the price varies depending on the manner in which the cows were raised and slaughtered.
There is also a generic testing involved in wagyu production that the Japanese government closely regulates. The cows with the best genetics are the only ones permitted in the reproductive lineup. With that, the higher the DNA rating, the more expensive it is.
And Then the Grade
Another factor that affects the price of wagyu beef is the grade. Japanese beef is graded based on how much meat can be yielded from the cow and the quantity of marbling. With that, the ones that are graded A3-A5 can be sold.
The grading system is also affected by other factors, such as:
- Level of marbling
Obviously, the highest possible quality wagyu you can get is grades A5.
Sometimes It All Comes Down to the Marbling
In most cases, the level of marbling is the main driving factor of the price. The marbling has a lot to do with the flavor of the beef as it has a direct correlation to the meat’s quality. Therefore, a few countries use the level and quality of marbling to indicate its grade.
… And Then Its Health Benefits
Another factor that drives the cost of wagyu beef is its health benefits. This Japanese beef is rich is essential fatty acids and comes with a higher amount of good cholesterol.
Additionally, this type of beef is an excellent source of essential vitamins and unsaturated healthy fats. It also has conjugated linoleic acid is a fatty acid with potent anti-carcinogenic properties. It’s also known as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Kobe beef is the most prized wagyu beef. It is made from steers or castrated bulls.
From 2010 through 2012, the USDA banned the import of Kobe beef from Japan to the US to restrict the threat of foot and mouth disease through livestock.
Finally, it was cleared to be imported, but since then, only 3,000 heads of cattle were certified as pure Kobe beef each year. With that, only a small number of this beef are imported in the US.
With that, if you plan to eat at a restaurant that claims to offer Kobe beef, remember: if it’s not a fine dining or upscale restaurant, that it may not be the real one. Additionally, some fine dining or upscale restaurants do have Kobe beef but mixed with other kinds of beef.
So, if you want to make sure you’re getting the real one, it’s best you order Kobe beef from a reliable store (although this may cost you a lot more than going to Japan!).
Wagyu vs. Kobe Beef
Okay, this may seem like a trick question, but trust us, there is a difference between the two.
Wagyu has different strain levels, in which Kobe beef comes from a specific strain—the Tajima Gyu strain—which is rare and more expensive than wagyu. As mentioned, only a specific number of cattle qualify as authentic Kobe every year.
In A Nutshell
Now that you know all of these stuff, it’s easier to justify the price of wagyu. Its intense flavor, generous marbling, and health benefits are some of the main driving factors why the beef is so expensive. These are also the reasons eating wagyu is an experience.
So, treat yourself every once in a while, because eating wagyu is one of the best things you can ever have today.
You can find this beef in restaurants, in which case only high-end restaurants with an excellent reputation delivers the guarantee of pure and high-quality wagyu. On the other hand, you can also cook it for yourself. If you choose to cook it on your own, you need to research properly to find the best places where you can get high-quality and authentic wagyu beef.
The good news is, you can find this online as well. Therefore, research is a must. You need to guarantee that it is prepared by professionals as this type of meat is so delicate.