So what exactly makes Japanese A5 Wagyu Beef price expensive? Why Japanese government regulates Japanese Wagyu industry tightly to push the value and quality of Japanese Beef even higher?
Firstly, let's find out how Wagyu is graded, the term a4 or a5 is graded on two factors, the yield of the meat can produce from a cow a scale C - A, and the quality of the fat a scale 1 - 5, AKA the Marbling on the meat. A5 is the highest grade of Japanese Wagyu Beef. The fat distributed on the Japanese Wagyu is very different than other animals, it is much more evenly on their entire muscles, that is why those A5 beef are so tender, creamy, buttery and why their meat looks pink.
Normally, only the Wagyu Beef graded above A3 is certified for sale in Japan. Of course, the higher the grade, the higher the price. Thanks to the strict regulation of Japanese Government, Japanese Wagyu became a legend around the globe along with many myths of the Japanese Wagyu, many of them are often not true, such as "Drinking Beer" and "Massage", we have another blog post talked about the Myth of Japanese Wagyu Beef.
So, that's it?
No, we haven't started talking about the cost of raising a Japanese Wagyu Cattle yet.
Typically, a Japanese Wagyu breeder raises a cattle about 10 months old, and then sells it at Wagyu Auction to a fattening farmer. Before a cattle is sold, it already cost 40 times the price of an American Cattle. After that, the fattening farmer continues to feed the cattle 3 times a day for about 2 years with high quality dried grass and grains, some special Wagyu fed with Olive lees like The Olive Wagyu From Kagawa. In a fattening period, a Wagyu cow will eat about five tons of feed. It can be sold for $30,000 in the auction. To give you a better idea if you are not familiar with beef industry, as a comparison, a black Angus cattle (quality is higher than USDA Prime) won't sell for $3,000.
The Wagyu Steak price on the table is various depends on many factors, where you buy it and what brand is. For instance, it can cost you $500 for a 10 oz Kobe Steak in a high-end steakhouse in the United States. (Note that many steakhouses are selling fake Kobe Beef but still charge you the same price, check if it is a certified Kobe Beef restaurant before you purchasing.)