You’ve probably recognized it by now, but we love Wagyu beef. It’s even better than you think, and it has a history you’ll want to share at the dinner table. Whether you came here because you want to know what makes it so enchanting or because you’re one of those people who has to know where their meat comes from (no judgment!), we have the history lesson you’re craving. Read on to discover a brief history of Japanese Wagyu beef.
Significance in Japan
Back in Japan, before Wagyu cattle were ever brought to America, they played a significant role in agriculture. They were draft horses, and they were known for their high energy and incredible endurance. In fact, they’re so important to the nation that they were declared a living national treasure in 1997, which ceased all exports.
But what else made them so admirable? Part of it has to do with the cattle’s high percentage of intramuscular fat (IMF). That marble-like quality and ratio of meat to fat is part of what makes this beef so delicious and sought-after.
Move to the U.S
In 1976, the first Wagyu cows were brought to the United States along with four bulls: two full-blood Black Wagyu bulls and two fullblood Red Wagyu bulls. With the export ban of 1997, only around 200 Wagyu were ever exported to the United States. Even then, only about 5,000 of the 30,000 Wagyu cattle produced since then are actually considered full-blood—which means there’s no cross-breeding in their lineage.
Because of this small number and a variety of other factors, the popularity of this beef didn’t surge until the early 2000s. Nowadays, however, a myriad of gourmet chefs and consumers are turning to this beef more than ever.
Effects on the Beef Industry
The transport and popularity of Wagyu beef has changed as time has gone on, but the meat’s effects on America’s beef industry are quite impressive. The U.S. has a beef grading scale—Select, Choice, and Prime. Most consumers come across Select; Choice is the step above that; and Prime is the ultimate cut.
Wagyu beef is technically considered a Prime beef, but there’s more to it than that. Think back to the marbling we talked about above. Prime cuts have a significant IMF ratio already, but Wagyu beef can have double to quintuple the marbling levels, which means that Wagyu beef is in a level of its own.
Did this history of Japanese Wagyu beef make you want to try it out yourself? Turn to Lone Mountain Wagyu for some of the best full-blood Wagyu steak around. We want to make sure that you see and taste the difference and that you have a reliable source to turn to once you fall in love. Shop our products now!