What’s the Beef?

There are so many different types of meat on the market but what is the difference between different types of beef? Surely, they all taste the same and have the same texture, right? Wrong, different types of beef vary, depending on the cow’s diet and breed.

The most famous and very rare meat is known as Wagyu Beef. These cow’s originate in Japan with four main breeds including the Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Southorn and Japanese Polled. However, modern Wagyu sees imported breeds such as Brown Swiss, Devon, Southorn, Simmental, Ayrshire and Korean.

Montgomeryshire sees its very own Welsh Wagyu Beef which are fed on Welsh ale and given regular massages to keep the meat tender and tasty. Restaurants Caernarfon serve 10-12oz sirloin cuts of this very rare meat accompanied by triple cooked chips, and lots of lovely fresh veggies so it’s not impossible to try some Wagyu for yourself in North Wales.

Unless you’re into your steak or have a lot of cash to splash, trying Wagyu could be a costly mistake. Wagyu beef is notorious for being expensive due to its rarity. It is very specific and to qualify for the Wagyu mark, cattle need to be reared and fed to some strict guidelines. Crazy right?

To ensure that the meat has its well-known marbling, breeding cattle are grazed on pasture whilst calves are fed with a milk replacer by hand and are given their very own jackets in the colder months. Once the calves have reached 7 months old they are then auctioned off to fattening farms where they are given their very own names instead of a number and are kept on a diet of rice straws, whole crop silage and concentrate.

It takes up to 3 years for a Wagyu cattle to reach its maximum size, unlike traditional cattle only taking 15 months.

In the UK, Wagyu Beef was an illegal import up until 2015 where the ban was lifted, seeing a rush in the market to put this tasty meat on the menus. Wagyu beef can now be purchased from specialist butchers and even some supermarkets but you’ll be expected to pay up to £200 per kilo for this fine rare meat.

So why can’t more people rear Wagyu cows? The rearing method that has to be used to have certified Wagyu meat is very time consuming and costly in itself, hence why not everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. There are all different types of grades of Wagyu meat, which will determine its price. The Japan Meat Grading Association gives eat piece of meat a grading score based on its yield (A-C) and for level of marbling, firmness, colour and overall quality (1-5), with A5 being the highest grade.

Although the UK and Australia use the Japanese grading system, there is no regulation with using the term Wagyu in the UK, meaning it’s much harder to know whether you are buying genuine Wagyu meat or not. Unless you are buying Wagyu meat that’s from Japan with the Wagyu mark, the chances are its not genuine Wagyu. Many sellers in the UK have Wagyu crossed with other breeds and most Wagyu burgers are seen to use a mix of Wagyu trim and other meat.

The chances that you’ll be buying genuine Wagyu at affordable prices is miniscule. Just make sure when you are buying Wagyu you’re not paying top prices for something that is only 50% genuine.