Chairman's News Update

Dear Wagyu Supporter, 

Two weeks have now passed since the official launch of the Wagyu Breeders Association (WBA) and I am delighted to say a lot of genuine interest and positive reaction has been generated from the 100 or so delegates that attended, together with some very positive press coverage nationally. 

The two-day event gave the current Board of 5 a chance to meet the delegates in the informal setting of a ‘Wagyu & Wine’ which was both well received and set the scene for the actual launch the following morning. I acknowledge here the support of our sponsors Harbro, IAE, RAFT Solutions, Kelvin Cave, Caisley, Grass Science, Taurus, Semenstore and UK Sire Services; without their financial help and encouragement, such a successful event as this would not have been possible. Thank you.

On the second day, a welcome from the Chairman then led to how the WBA came to be established which was followed by several technical papers in the key areas to develop the breed to its best advantage in the UK, remembering its taste and tenderness is renowned as second-to-none throughout the world.

The breed is developing faster in Australia than anywhere else globally and the key note speaker, Rob Cumine, who had flown over from his job as Agricultural Manager of Cole’s Supermarkets there, (as well as having a considerable herd of Wagyu in West Wales) provided a stimulating and thought-provoking delivery of where we should be going with Wagyu in this country. Many interesting questions came from the delegates as a result.

The afternoon provided the opportunity to look at the Chairman’s small herd of Wagyu cattle as well as hearing about the modern development of tissue sampling tags together with a scanning demonstration, both of which are very relevant to the high-quality value and integrity of Wagyu meat.

The feedback and interest was tremendous and has given the Board plenty to build into their long-term strategic plan which is due to be delivered later next spring or early summer.

This has led them via a recent conference call to prioritise their actions going forward, staying true to their stated intention of not ‘reinventing the wheel’ given the fact that excellent technical programmes and registration systems are already well-established elsewhere in the world which lend themselves to being adopted to ensure the integrity of the meat here in the UK.

On that basis, we have already started a dialogue with the Australian Wagyu Association to see what possibilities exist to work with them to develop a Breed Society here. We have also identified sampling tags that we know can greatly enhance beyond doubt the integrity of Wagyu as well as meeting all the DNA requirements that need to be available for WBA Members. On the same basis, companies are being identified that can test and store the DNA samples focusing not only on cost-effectiveness and customer service but also on accuracy of results.

The grading up to pedigree Wagyu (‘Purebreeds’) is to follow similar rules as laid down in the Wagyu breed trade descriptions in Australia. That means that any first cross to be registered would have to be by a Fullblood registered Wagyu bull as would all the crosses up to Purebreed status. Purebreeds are known to provide the top marbling, which is how the meat is assessed for value. The first cross is known to provide better marbling on Holstein and native beef breeds but it is not the Board’s intention to limit first crosses to those breeds, as Wagyu sires are able to improve meat eating quality across all breeds, but would in time likely set a minimum marbling grade to get WBA certification.

Whilst the grading of marbling is not currently done in this country, the WBA is approaching organisations like Eblex to discuss how this might be introduced in the future with suitable training.  

There is still a lot of ‘education’ to be done on several fronts for the breed. As Chairman, I am talking to the Chief Executive of the School of Culinary Arts in an attempt to encourage the chef profession to better understand the outstanding qualities of Wagyu beef and thereby to have confidence to use it more. This will encourage the use of the ‘cheaper’ cuts which still retain the meat’s own remarkable taste thus prompting better utilisation of the whole carcase.

Furthermore, we are in the process of approaching a top chef to consider being President of the WBA.

Again on the education side, plans are being discussed to use the website to give Members ideas on marketing the product, publishing case studies on breeding, rearing and feeding as well as technical features. This is aimed at encouraging those not yet established in the Wagyu meat business to join and contribute to the development of the breed. It is also intended to develop the ‘social media’ aspect.  

There are enormous opportunities and we are intending to give our Members the back-up to make use of them. We are delighted with the response we have had to the WBA membership discount offer over the launch and want to create an environment for others to join. We are also looking for additional Board members to help with the work load and will be contacting new Members to ask for their help in that process.

 We have been given an excellent start to the Wagyu Breeders Association and very much hope you will be able to support us by joining the WBA if you have not already done so in order to make it work for all involved but most importantly keeping the product high-value and high-quality.

 May we wish you the very best Season’s Greetings and we will certainly be back in touch in the New Year with news of developments and what we have achieved. Give yourself a very good Christmas present and become a Member of the Wagyu Breeders Association!

Yours sincerely,

Mike Tucker