why wagyu beef so expensive

Wagyu beef comes from Japan. Because of that, if you want it in America, it needs to be imported. There’s an import quota in the United States, and once that quota has been met, a high import tax is added to all future imports. That means that the beef has to be priced higher as a result.

If youve ever wondered why the most exquisite cuts of beef come with hefty price tags, then youre not alone. The answer lies in the incredible quality of Wagyu beef, which has been praised by chefs and foodies alike for its incomparable flavor, succulent texture, and unparalleled marbling.

So, why is Wagyu beef so expensive and is it really worth the crazy high price? In this article, well explore the factors that contribute to the high cost of Wagyu beef, from unique cow breeds to the import quota from Japan.

Here’s what you’re paying for

Although the word Wagyu literally translates to “Japanese cow” in Japanese (via The Meatery), not all Japanese cows can be considered Wagyu. Eat This, Not That explains that farm-raising Wagyu cattle is a very involved, time-consuming process, one that includes genetic testing regulated by the Japanese government. Cows must have a certain DNA rating to be bred for Wagyu beef, and they must also undergo a two-year fattening process where they are fed “a mixture of fiber and high-energy concentrate” and carefully monitored until their body mass reaches 50% fat,” Insider elaborates.

But it doesnt end there. Insider adds that only castrated bulls raised in the city of Kobe can be bred for Kobe beef, a special type of Wagyu. And per Robb Report, farmers even monitor the stress of their cattle. Stress causes cortisol levels to rise, which in turn negatively affects the quality of the meat.

Why is Wagyu Beef so expensive and luxurious?

There are many contributing factors to what exactly makes Japanese Wagyu beef so expensive and so darn tasty. Lets explore them.

One of the main reasons for the high cost of Wagyu beef is the limited land available for cattle in Japan. Wagyu cattle are bred in a specific area, and the limited land available cannot accommodate the large number of cattle that would be needed to lower the cost. This means the supply is limited, and if youre at all familiar with economics 101, youll know it drives up the price.

Wagyu is made from 4 unique breeds of cattle, and the only place where authentic Wagyu cows are bred is in Japan. The breed has been carefully developed over centuries, resulting in a high-quality product that is not available anywhere else in the world!

Wagyu cattle are fed for up to 600-700 days, which is five times longer than average US cattle. This longer feeding time allows the cattle to develop a unique flavor and texture, which is why Wagyu beef is so highly sought after.

The size of feed lots in Japan is much smaller than in the US, which means they cant benefit from economies of scale. This means that the cost of producing Wagyu beef is higher than it would be in the US, which contributes to the high cost.

Raising Wagyu cattle requires a great deal of skill and training. The farmers and ranchers who raise Wagyu cattle are highly trained and go through a rigorous certification program. To add on top of that, their salaries are often higher when compared to labor costs on American farms and elsewhere, all of which contributes to the cost and quality of Wagyu beef.

The Japanese National Livestock Breeding Center has a rigorous security and tracing system in place. |In fact, every single Wagyu cow is given a unique 10-digit code at birth, and it can be traced back all the way to its grandfather and where it was raised! This ensures the highest quality and consistency, which is another reason Wagyu beef is so expensive.

The US has an import quota of 200,000 kg of Wagyu beef per year, and the US imposes an import tax of 26.4% on all Japanese Wagyu beef. On top of this, we have the shipping costs of transporting all of that delicious heavy meat all the way from across the Pacific to the US. These all add to the cost of Wagyu beef, making it even more expensive than it would otherwise be.

What exactly is Wagyu beef?

When you buy beef, there are plenty of options out there. There are different cuts, like chuck, sirloin, and round, but Wagyu isnt just a different section of the cow. The meat comes from an entirely different breed of cattle, one that is native to Japan. According to the American Wagyu Association, there are four major breeds that are used for Wagyu production: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled, and Japanese Shorthorn. Thanks to a combination of favorable genetics and unique cultivation conditions, these breeds are able to produce beef that has a much higher ratio of mono-unsaturated to saturated fat, making it extremely tender and more marbled, giving it an extra rich and indulgent flavor.

Wagyu-style beef can technically be replicated outside of Japan, but as the American Wagyu Association shares, Japanese Polled and Shorthorn cows arent bred anywhere else. According to The Meatery, most American “Wagyu” actually comes from a 50/50 cross between a pure-bred Wagyu and Angus cattle, and therefore has a slightly different flavor, texture, and marbling compared to Japanese Wagyu.

Wagyu beef comes from Japan. Because of that, if you want it in America, it needs to be imported. There’s an import quota in the United States, and once that quota has been met, a high import tax is added to all future imports. That means that the beef has to be priced higher as a result.


What is so special about Wagyu beef?

Since Wagyu cows are more physically resilient, their fat cells are more uniform across their muscles. Because of their muscles, Wagyu meat is pinker and much more delicate, resulting in a more flavorful, soft cut of meat. It can cook for extended periods without becoming leathery or dried up.

What makes Wagyu so rare?

It’s Expensive and Time-Consuming to Breed – Typically made from the Kuroge (Black) Japanese cow, Wagyu beef is beloved for its high fat content. To achieve this, Japanese farmers must create the perfect stress-free environment for their herds and feed them an expensive, high-energy diet with three meals a day.

Why is Wagyu beef so pricey?

The cattle are raised with special care, often in Japan, and the intricate marbling of fat throughout the meat contributes to its tenderness and rich flavor. Additionally, the production process, strict standards, and limited supply contribute to the high cost of Wagyu beef.

Is Wagyu beef worth the extra money?

Wagyu beef has earned its reputation as a luxury food item. Thanks to its exceptional marbling, tenderness, and rich flavor profile. The combination of its origin, careful breeding practices, and the dedication of farmers to raising cattle contribute to the high price tag.

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