While most people associate wagyu beef only with Japan, there are various types of Wagyu around the world, and it’s important to note that they are not all created equal. Each differs in many ways, particularly when compared to Japanese Wagyu. In this guide, we will focus on Australian Wagyu and how it differs from other popular Wagyu types, such as American or Japanese Wagyu.
What Is Australian Wagyu, Exactly?
Australian Wagyu is a type of wagyu beef produced in Australia using Japanese cattle genetics. While it is known for its mild flavor and tenderness, it does not quite reach the A5 Japanese Wagyu beef level. Australian Wagyu beef has a unique grading system that differs from those used in America or Japan. Despite being different from Japanese beef, Australian Wagyu still ranks among the best beef in the world.
As a reminder, “Wagyu” means ‘Japanese cow.’ Japanese cattle are known for their strict breeding rules that result in beef with exceptional marbling, tenderness, and a rich buttery flavor. Australian farmers also use selective breeding rules based on the genetics of Japanese cattle to produce Australian wagyu beef.
Australian Wagyu primarily consists of three major black Wagyu strains from the Tajiri (Tajima), Fujiyoshi (Shimane), and Kedaka (Tottori) regions, as well as two red strains from Kochi and Kumamoto. Like Japan, about 95% of Australian Wagyu production utilizes Japanese Black genetics, with Red Wagyu contributing a smaller volume.
History of Australian Wagyu Beef
In 1990, Australia imported its first purebred Wagyu animal, marking the beginning of its history. The arrival of additional fullblood Wagyu cattle soon followed, enhancing the genetic diversity of Australian herds. As the years passed, the Australian Wagyu industry expanded, and now, Australia boasts the largest Wagyu population outside of Japan.
You can learn about the detailed history of Australian Wagyu on the official website of the Australian Wagyu Association.
American vs. Australian Wagyu
Both types of beef are derived from Japanese cattle but differ in breeding, feeding practices, and the final flavor profile of the beef. The feeding practices for the cattle differ, primarily in duration and type of feeding. Due to these reasons, it is easy to conclude that Australian Wagyu is also more expensive than American Wagyu.
Australian Wagyu is closer in marbling and flavor to Japanese Wagyu than American Wagyu, primarily because it has more full-blood and purebred Wagyu cattle. American Wagyu typically consists of a 50% Wagyu crossbreed with Angus cattle, resulting in a higher percentage of non-Wagyu genetics. However, some farms in the U.S. still specialize in 100% full-blood Wagyu.
American wagyu beef has less marbling and a less melt-in-your-mouth texture than Australian Wagyu, making it better meat for regular cooking. While beef with very high marbling results in a rich, buttery flavor, it also has a high-fat content that may be overwhelming to some palates or unsuitable for regular consumption.
Australian vs. Japanese Wagyu
Australian Wagyu comes from the same genetics as Japanese Wagyu cattle but differs in breeding, feeding, and taste. Japanese breeders have been breeding their cattle for longer, and their breeding process is more restrictive than the process used in Australia.
While Australian wagyu beef achieves a significant amount of marbling, it doesn’t quite match the top-grade Japanese beef. The two also differ in taste, with Japanese beef having a more buttery flavor and a melt-in-the-mouth texture. Japanese Wagyu is not for regular consumption in large quantities but for tasting and savoring.
Where to Buy Authentic Australian Wagyu?
The easiest way to purchase Australian Wagyu is through an online store. This option allows you to easily verify the seller’s authenticity by reading other customers’ reviews. Below are a few verified vendors that are worth considering:
- Grand Western Steaks
- The Wagyu Shop
- Holy Grail Steak Co.
- Crowd Cow
- The Meatery
When purchasing expensive beef, it’s important to be careful. Always verify the source of your beef and buy only from reputable vendors. Unfortunately, dishonest sellers often cheat people by selling inauthentic beef at inflated prices. The high prices of Australian beef make it a particularly attractive target for such scams. It’s especially important to be wary of restaurants, steakhouses, and local butcher shops that may try to exploit their customers’ lack of knowledge.
Australian Wagyu FAQs
Is Australian Wagyu good?
Australia has the most successful wagyu beef breeding program outside of Japan, resulting in excellent marbling, tenderness, and rich flavor in Australian wagyu beef. In many ways, it resembles Japanese Wagyu but with a slightly less buttery flavor and a slightly firmer texture. Australian wagyu beef is also more attractively priced, which, combined with the above advantages, makes it a great alternative to Japanese wagyu beef worldwide.
Is Australian Wagyu expensive?
Definitely yes. Australian Wagyu is considered a luxury beef and is one of the most expensive types of beef in the world, along with other varieties of Wagyu. The differences become even more apparent when comparing Australian Wagyu to standard USDA choice or prime-grade steaks.