Megan put world’s most expensive beef on the map

Megan Angus joined forces with her father, Brian, who is widely known as the Wagyu pioneer in South Africa. Together, they introduced Mzansi to the beef that was once reserved for Japanese royalty. Watch this space, because Megan is creating magic with a new brand, Karoo Wagyu beef

Not to be Missed

- Advertisement -

It may have been her dad, Brian, who started breeding with Wagyu cattle in South Africa, but it was Megan Angus who put Woodview’s beef on the map, helping to lift Mzansi into this elite international arena.

The marketing and advertising degree that Angus (31) obtained at the University of Cape Town has certainly stood her in good stead. Ironically, though, she could never imagine that her qualification would propel the family business to global heights.

Today, Angus creates magic on Woodview in the Free State, one of the country’s first and leading Wagyu beef farms based between Bethlem and Kroonstad. However, the seeds for this chapter of her life were sown when she was more than 12 000km away from home on a boat, cruising the world.

“I was working on a yacht for three years. I was mostly in Miami, Florida, but otherwise we travelled quite far and wide,” she tells Food For Mzansi.

“My parents kept phoning me when I was overseas asking me, ‘How do we do this? How do we sell this amazing product?’ Then, eventually, I thought, you know what, I studied a bit of business, so let me go back and see if I can get the business off the ground.”

Trading the yacht life for the family farm was not hard for her.

“I was always a farm girl at heart, and I knew we had something special back home.”

- Advertisement -

Also, she knew that Woodview “had beef that no one else had, and I always wanted to work for myself.”

At the time, Woodview was a fourth-generation farm that specialised in breeding Angus cattle. Her father had helped pioneer the local breeding of Japanese Wagyu cattle, but the business was selling cattle, not beef.

Waguy is known as the most prized beef in the world. In the US, it is estimated that adult Waguy cows can sell for as much as $30,000 (close to R450 000). Each! And a Waguy steak at a fancy restaurant can easily set you back up to R4 000.

The inspirational Megan Angus and her father, Brian, are pioneers of Wagyu cattle and beef in South Africa. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
The inspirational Megan Angus and her father, Brian, are pioneers of Wagyu cattle and beef in South Africa. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

So, Angus decided to go back to the farm in 2013. She started the Wagyu and Angus beef business the next year. However, starting up the processing business came with its fair share of challenges.

She lacked experience and had to learn a lot about cutting meat, she remembers. She also had to figure out how to design beautiful packaging and how to actually sell the expensive meat products.

Breaking into the export market

Then came the export challenges. Getting the factory export-approved took lots of paperwork and working with government to get the facility tested to the highest levels of health and safety.

Within two years of opening the Wagyu and Angus beef business, however, Woodview farm was able to export their hamburger patties to the Seychelles. In the same year, the Angus family joined forces with the Van Reenen family from Sparta Beef, world-class beef producers, with a proud heritage of more than 50 years.

“Partnering with the big beef plant called Sparta Beef really put us on a different platform. And now, recently, we’ve merged the Woodview Wagyu beef cattle with another company. The breakthrough now is a brand called Karoo Wagyu beef. We are pretty much Wagyu beef wholesalers and run a world-class Wagyu beef operation,” she says.

ALSO READ: Varsity rejection fuelled this young farmer’s dream

The Woodview farm also supplies their Wagyu burgers to Food Lovers Market, the five-star Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff in Johannesburg and quite a few Spars and other grocery stores around the country.

To help the business succeed, Angus says she had to learn tough lessons.

Some of the toughest lessons were in managing the customers’ expectations. She learned that saying no to a client the right way could be very beneficial to their relationship in the long term.

Under Megan Angus' reign the Woodview farm also won South Africa's leading producer of tender tasty beef. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Under Megan Angus’ reign the Woodview farm also won South Africa’s leading producer of tender tasty beef. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

The lessons she learned from experience and her post- graduate degree in entrepreneurship have aided her in building a multi-award-winning business.

In 2017, Woodview won a silver award in the small business category at the Roodepoort Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as an FNB Business of the Year award.

Another highlight for the business was its 2017 selection as a National Gazelle by the department of small business development.

The National Gazelles is a national SME growth accelerator funded by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) and the department of small business development. This means that Woodview Wagyu has been identified as a high-performing small business with strong growth potential.

A very special cattle breed

Angus attributes the success of the business to the quality of her Wagyu beef.

“What makes our beef special is that it has full traceability. That means that the beef that you consume or purchase on that day can be traced all the way back to the animal and all the way back to the pasture that it was running in,” she reveals.

As sacred and as exclusive as Wagyu beef was, Angus’ father, Brian, managed to bring Wagyu cattle to our shores in 1998.

Angus shares that Wagyu cattle have been bred for hundreds of years and are regarded as a national treasure in Japan. In fact, for many years only the emperor, his family and his samurai could eat Wagyu beef.

She indicates that this famous breed is best known for its ability to marble.

“Marbling is the fine, web-like intramuscular fat found in premium quality beef, and no other breed has a genetic disposition to marbling quite like Wagyu.”

She adds that, unlike any other breed, Wagyu fat melts at room temperature and not only when exposed to cooking heat.

“Wagyu beef is also healthier. Research shows that the beef from long-fed Wagyu cattle naturally contains more Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, as well as more monounsaturated fatty acids (the good fat) than other beef.

“This is one of the genetic benefits of the Wagyu breed and one of the reasons why Wagyu beef is regarded as the finest, most exclusive beef produced in the world,” she says.

“Sometimes you don’t have to be a farmer when you already have the skills to do and be something else (in agriculture).”

Angus shares that her father was on a business tour in the United States, exploring the opportunities of a new, unique breed of cattle, when he first heard of Wagyu cattle.

Nearly 23 years later, Brian is the leading Wagyu breeder in South Africa with world-class genetics that has been selected and bred into the Woodview herd.

The Eunice High School matriculant’s advice to young people who aspire to enter the field of agriculture is not to try and invent the wheel, but to use what they already have to start.

“Use the skills you have. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. I had advertising and marketing skills, so we did beautiful packaging. We did beautiful design work for our products and we were able to market it really nicely.

“Sometimes you don’t have to be a farmer when you already have the skills to do and be something else (in agriculture).”

ALSO READ: Agri SA awards Eastern Cape cattle farmer with top honours

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

Some Flava

More Stories Like This

- Advertisement -