Marbling – the origins and grading process:
If you’ve heard anything about Wagyu, you’ll know that it is synonymous with “marbling,” referring to the unique layers of intramuscular fat found within the beef. This magnificent marbling contributes to Wagyu’s melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and buttery, umami flavour.
No other beef variety compares – putting Wagyu in a league of its own.
So, what gives Wagyu that trademark look and taste?
The role of genetics in marbling:
Wagyu cattle have a history rooted in Japan, where they were primarily bred for physical endurance and used in agriculture for centuries.
In the 1900s, Japanese Wagyu cattle were exported to the United States for a short time, ending in an export ban in 1997, with Japan declaring Wagyu cattle “a national treasure.”
In light of this, it’s important to understand the significance of 100% certified Wagyu cattle.
When Wild Coast Wagyu began 5 years ago, we carefully selected our genetics to ensure high quality for our customers. We proudly state that they are ranked in the top 5% globally. It’s important to note that each Wagyu cow is different from the next, be it in size or fat content, resulting in carcasses of varying marbling quality.
You may have heard stories of people massaging their Wagyu cattle daily, feeding them beer, or playing classical music to soothe them and produce the finest beef.
While we can’t quite speak to those methods, we can confidently say that the quality of the cattle’s feed and the manner in which they graze undoubtedly influence their meat quality.
Our Wagyu, for example, are raised in an open environment, free to roam and explore the scenic pastures of Greenfields Farm on the outskirts of Mooi River in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. There is no need to inject our cows with hormones or antibiotics, as their lifestyle keeps them healthy and happy – resulting in beef that is a cut above the rest.
How do you grade a Wagyu cut?
The first (and most important thing) to note is that our cattle are registered with the Wagyu Society of South Africa.
But what does that mean to you, the consumer?
This means that our Wagyu’s traceability is ensured through DNA sampling and testing. It also means that the grading process is independent, giving you peace of mind that when you pay a premium price for a particular cut – you get what you pay for.
To ensure that store-bought Wagyu is registered with the WSSA, look out for the logo below.
Every Wagyu supplier in South Africa registered with the WSSA has a standardised grading process.
Upon harvesting, a cut is taken between the 7th and 8th rib of the carcass, traditionally your ribeye steak. A specialised camera is used to take a photo of the cut. It’s then sent to the WSSA, who provides an objective marbling score.
Currently, our cuts range from MS 4-5 to MS 6-7 (with the occasional MS 9) and are steadily increasing.
Our focus on quality over quantity means that we are continuously improving our marbling score through genetics and farming methods, ensuring that you get the best beef every time.