Japan Livestock Industry Association councillor Toshiaki Masuda, who spoke to GlobalMeatNews at Sial Paris, said three plants were currently certified to produce Japanese Wagyu to Europe, but more factories were awaiting approval.
He said: “We need more plants to open up – the EU has a checklist and we are ticking this off with some of the factories to sort this out. Their (EU) criteria are different, so it’s quite complex to export to the EU.”
Masuda explained that Japan Livestock would like to double the number of factories producing EU-approved Wagyu Beef. Currently, Itoham Foods Inc, JA Zen-Noh and Starzen International Co, all in Tokyo, have been given the go-ahead by the EU. GlobalMeatNews learnt that S Foods Inc in Hyogo, NH Foods in Tokyo, and Meat-Companion Co, also in Tokyo, are going through the process of obtaining approval.
The team at the Wagyu Japanese Beef stand at Sial Paris were keen explain what differentiates true wagyu from the rest. The cattle, which must be purely of the Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Shorthorn, or Japanese Polled breeds, must also be born and reared in Japan. Furthermore, lineage of three generations needs to be certified, while Japanese Wagyu production methods must be used.
Masuda explained that cross breeding with breeds in Australia and other countries had been going on for too long for Japan to be able to protect the name ‘wagyu’ and keep it exclusive. However, he said research was being done to protect its status in Europe.
GlobalMeatNews was told that Japanese Wagyu is aiming primarily to sell into the high-end foodservice sector, as well as premium department stores and luxury butchers.
Masuda explained why he believes Wagyu is so special: “It has a very fine texture, very evenly spread marbling and the fat melts at around body temperature; it really feels like it melts in the mouth. The aroma is very different and it’s high in unsaturated fatty acids so it’s very healthy.
“Already many people have visited us (at Sial). Our visitors are real professionals and want to distribute wagyu to their industry and we are really pleased about this. People have seen the display and said it’s the most beautiful meat they have ever seen.”