Wagyu set for rapid growth

The growing demand for wagyu is expected to transform the UK beef market. That was the message delegates took away at the first UK Wagyu Revolution Conference, which took place in Warrendale Farm in East Yorkshire on Monday 27 June. 

“Overall interest in wagyu is growing in Britain and Ireland with strong opportunities for marketing into high-end restaurant and retail sectors,” said Graham Truscott, chief executive of the Australian Wagyu Association (AWA) and keynote speaker at the conference.

Truscott presented on the global wagyu situation and the opportunities that UK farmers can capitalise on.

The conference was organised by the Wagyu Breeders Association (WBA). The organisation’s chairman Mike Tucker said: “The inherent qualities of wagyu beef are tenderness, marbling and healthy eating, which drive premium and profit. A key message from the conference is that demand for wagyu will continue to outstrip supply for many years so those getting on board now will be well-rewarded into the future.

“Our vision is to give the beef sector a new, exciting and viable option, and to take the lead in improving the eating experience in the red meat industry.”

Also in attendance was AWA board member and treasurer Steve Binnie, who provided delegates with a commercial farmer’s perspective on his switch from native-bred cattle and a handful of wagyu in 2015, to having over 1,000 wagyu calves on the ground in 2016.

A key benefit to wagyu is the healthy qualities in the meat. According to research, the beef contains large amounts of monounsaturated healthy oleic acid.

“Healthiness in all foods is a major focus, and none more so than at the premium pricing level,” added Binnie. “Customers willing and able to pay for the best expect the best, and that often equates to health benefits.”

Wagyu producers have an online registration system and DNA tag interference, which enables animals to be marketed through established British Wagyu branding.

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