Wagyu is known as the world’s most expensive beef. But that’s not keeping the people of Mzansi from eating more of the juicy and flavour-packed meat. Dr Michael Bradfield, CEO of the Wagyu Society of South Africa, joins us on this weekend’s podcast to chat about the Wagyu market in the country.
South Africa’s Wagyu market has seen distinct growth in the last few years, with Wagyu meat consumption increasing fourfold in the last year. Bradfield says that the growth in the market is due to more South Africans becoming familiar with the product.
“We also [have] large retailers [stocking the meat]. For example, Woolies, in a number of [their] stores, [have] continuously [been] rolling out [and] selling Wagyu. So far, the sales have been above expectations, and you can also see it in Checkers and Pick and Pay. So, the South African public is getting used to the product.”
Bradfield acknowledges that the reason Wagyu is the world’s most expensive beef, is because of the way the animals are cared for. “Remember that we look after those animals for two to three years before they go for slaughter, so that’s what pushes the price up. We also have to make sure the animals are marbled. We look after them very well – no hormones, no stimulants.”
Marbling, which is the streaking of white fat in between the red muscle fibres, is what makes the Wagyu meat so special. Bradfield says that the fat is considered good, unsaturated fat, filled with oleic acid. “Wagyu has very high levels of oleic acid, similar to an avocado. It’s that a very special meat.”
But the high price of Wagyu should not hinder the average South African from buying the meat, he adds.
“We advise people to eat them in small slithers or strips. Don’t eat it as a whole steak, unless you can afford that, of course. But eat them in slithers and strips and serve them to your friends. [That way] even Joe Public can eat Wagyu. It’ll then cost you R100, R120. [You can] divide that up amongst your friends and everybody can have a good eating experience. It has a very high satiety index, which means you feel full just from a little piece.”
Bradfield believes in the market for Wagyu farmers. “We see the retail sector picking up in South Africa, strongly selling the product. Then of course, the export sector is also picking up for our Wagyu producers, so it’s a combination of both local consumption and export consumption that’s making this product worth farming with.”
Listen to the full talk on the latest episode of Farmer’s Inside Track:
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