Wagyu beef comes from four main Japanese cow breeds that are carefully selected and genetically tested. They include Japanese Polled, Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, and Japanese Shorthorn. These breeds are known to produce the best-quality steak with notable characteristics ranging from incredible tenderness to better taste.
Wagyu beef prices average at $200 per pound. However, that price tag is there for good reason. Here are five of the top reasons Wagyu beef is worth every penny.
Highly Controlled Market and Breeding
Japan banned exportation of Wagyu cattle breeds in 1997. By then, only about 200 animals had been exported to the US. As a result, the supply of Wagyu beef outside of Japan is negligible in comparison to the demand. What’s more, Japan uses strict testing methods to ensure breeding uses only the best genetic material. The highly controlled breeding and limited supply justify the price.
High Grading Standards
Grading also plays a role in pricing. The Japan Meat Grading Association (JMGA) is very strict, grading Wagyu beef according to color, brightness, fat marbling and quality, texture, and firmness. The beef that finds its way into high-end restaurants is the highest grade, which is worth every penny. Try Wagyu sausage rather than links from the grocery store, and you’ll be able to taste the difference.
Tedious, Expensive Production Process
Raising cows that produce Wagyu beef is a challenging and expensive process. Generally, a breeder cares for the cows to a certain age (usually 10 months) before auctioning them to a farmer, who fattens them using a special diet and care. The cows feed 3 times daily for 2 years to gain 50 percent body fat. Given the cost of concentrated feeds; the time and effort; plus the hefty price tag at the auction house—up to $30,000—Wagyu beef is bound to come at a price.
Wagyu is arguably the best-tasting beef available today. The beef melts inside the mouth and has a delicious, ultra-rich, buttery flavor that regular beef can’t match. Wagyu is also juicier than typical steak and packed with more fatty acids, which offer a unique aroma.
Lastly, Wagyu beef contains more oleic acid than typical beef. The acid offers higher monounsaturated fatty acids (healthy fats) than normal beef. Wagyu beef won’t increase your bad cholesterol levels. Instead, you stand to enjoy cardiovascular benefits and extra vitamins along with superior taste.
One can chalk up the price of Wagyu beef to various factors. It’s healthier, rarer, and much better tasting than standard beef. What’s more, it’s subject to very high grading standards. You’ll be able to taste the difference, though, and you’ll remember why these reasons Wagyu beef is worth every penny.