Japanese Wagyu Beef Grades Explained

The grading of Japanese wagyu beef is based on two criteria: Yield and Meat Quality Grade. Yield refers to the ratio of meat to carcass weight. Meat Quality Grade refers to the following several quality criteria like BMS (Beef Marbling Score), BCS (Beef Color Standard), BFS (Beef Fat Standard), and firmness of the meat. Below, we explain each criterion in detail with a graphic representation.

Yield Grade: Definition

As we mentioned above, Yield is the meat-to-carcass weight ratio. Yield grade goes on a letter scale from A to C. Grade “C” is the worst, and grade “A” is the best; the table below shows more detailed information.

GradeYield
A72% and above
B69%-72%
CBelow 69%
Yield Chart

Meat Quality Grade: Definition

Four factors are taken into account when grading the quality of wagyu beef. These are marbling, the color of the meat, firmness, and fat. Each is given a rating on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the worst rating, 5 being the best).

Beef Marbling Score (BMS)

Fat content, also known as marbling, is what makes Japanese wagyu beef famous. The beef Marbling Score is a criterion that evaluates the fat-to-meat ratio. The more fat, the better the grade. The BMS scale goes from 3 to 12, where 3 is the lowest score, and 12 is the highest.

GradeBeef Marbling Score (BMS)
58-12
45-7
33-4
22
11
Beef Marbling Standard (BMS) Chart

Beef Color Standard (BCS)

Beef standard color is a criterion that evaluates the color of meat. Medium tones get the best grade, while the darkest and lightest tones get lower grades.

GradeBeef Marbling Score (BMS)
53-5
42-6
31-6
21-7
1Out of range
Beef Color Standard (BCS) Chart

Beef Fat Standard (BFS)

The beef Fat Standard is a criterion that evaluates the color and gloss of fat. Fat that is lighter in color and more glossy gets the best grade, while dark-colored fat receives a lower grade.

GradeBeef Fat Standard (BFS)
51-4
41-5
31-6
21-7
1Out of range
Beef Fat Standard (BFS) Chart

The Firmness of The Meat

The last factor in grading wagyu beef is to check the firmness of the meat. The beef must be firm and tender.

GradeBeef Fat Standard (BFS)
51-4
41-5
31-6
21-7
1Out of range
The Firmness of The Meat Chart

FAQ on the Japanese Wagyu Beef Grading System

Why Is Wagyu Beef Graded?

Wagyu beef is graded mainly to protect integrity and authenticity. It’s the most exclusive and expensive beef in the world. With costs reaching more than $200, or even $300 per pound, it’s crucial to maintain strict grading and authenticity tests for Wagyu beef. These strict grading criteria give customers and diners confidence in the unsurpassed quality and authenticity of the Wagyu they’re paying for. Grading also helps to prevent counterfeiting and the sale of sub-quality, fake Wagyu beef. 

What is the Difference Between A4 and A5 Wagyu?

A5 Wagyu is the highest grade of Wagyu beef, prized for its intense marbling, tenderness, and outstanding buttery flavor. A4 Wagyu is the second highest grade and is still very tender and flavorful but not quite as highly marbled as A5. The A4 Wagyu is also cheaper than the A5 Wagyu.

What is the Highest Grade Wagyu Beef?

The highest grade of Wagyu beef is A5. This grade is given to beef with a marbling score of 8 or higher on the Japanese Beef Marbling Standard. It’s the most marbled and flavorful beef in the world.

What is the Lowest Grade of Wagyu Beef?

The lowest grade of Wagyu beef must score Grade C for Yield and Grade 1 for Meat Quality Grade (Beef Marbling Standard, Beef Fat Standard, Beef Color Standard, and firmness of the meat). As for beef available in stores, the lowest grade is A3 Wagyu.

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Written by: Adam Wojtow

Adam is the founder of Steak Revolution. He loves sharing his knowledge of steaks with everyone, ensuring you get the perfect steak every time.