Wagyu Beef: Japanese and American Heritage

wagyu ribeye

According to the American Wagyu Association, only four Japanese breeds are truly considered Wagyu: Japanese Black (the predominant Wagyu exported to the U.S), Akaushi (also known as the Japanese Red Cow), Japanese Polled, and Japanese Shorthorn. In Japan there is strict regulation on labeling and export of this prized livestock – even in Japan true Wagyu accounts for only .06% of beef consumption.

These cattle were originally raised as draft animals—selected for their endurance, which was fueled by their great capacity to store fat. As gastronomy became the main indicator for selection, unique breeds of Wagyu began to develop in prefectures including Matsusaka, Kobe, and Shiga.

Wagyu beef is known for its abundance of intramuscular fat and grades levels above USDA Prime. A special grading system has been developed for this beef based on a Beef Marbling Score, or BMS, ranging from 3–12. To give you an idea, USDA Prime steak might come to 11% fat whereas a level 3 BMS must have a minimum of 21 percent intramuscular fat, according to Steven Raichlen, BBQ Bible.

The first Wagyu cattle were imported to the US in 1975 when a Japanese Emperor gifted four bulls to a Hawaiian. The meat is steadily becoming more popular among American chefs and home cooks. In the United States Wagyu is often crossed with Angus, but as the American interest in Wagyu grows it’s being raised with increasingly pure genetics.

The Akaushi beef we carry is from Heartbrand Beef in Texas. This family-owned ranch has been raising Japanese cattle since 1992.

If you’re interested in sourcing some of the best Akaushi and Akaushi/Angus Wagyu beef available in the United States please visit our storefront HeritageFoodsUSA.com/Beef. And if you’re really serious about amazing beef, check out our Ribeye Variety Pack—our curated selection of the most exquisitely marbled steaks.

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