· Huge potential growth for premium Wagyu beef
· UK becomes Europe-wide hub in global Wagyu vision
The Wagyu Breeders Association (WBA) held its first ‘UK Wagyu Revolution Conference' at High Warrendale Farm, Warter, East Yorkshire on Monday 27th June where the clear message to the 100 delegates present was that Wagyu beef was set to revolutionise British cattle farming.
Keynote speaker was Graham Truscott, CEO of the Australian Wagyu Association (AWA), who presented on the global Wagyu situation and the opportunities for UK farmers to capitalise on the tremendous demand worldwide for premium Wagyu beef.
Mr Truscott has overseen the huge success of Wagyu in Australia that has seen membership in the past 12 months grow by 32% and registrations of cattle by 20%, with numbers predicted to triple in the next few years.
"Overall interest in Wagyu is growing rapidly in Britain & Ireland with strong opportunities for marketing into high-end restaurant and retail sectors," he said.
WBA Chairman, Mike Tucker, added: "The inherent qualities of Wagyu beef are tenderness, marbling and healthy eating which drive premium and profit. A key message from the Conference is that demand for Wagyu will continue to outstrip supply for many years so those getting on board now will be well-rewarded into the future. Our vision is to give the beef sector a new, exciting and viable option, and to take the lead in improving the eating experience in the red meat industry."
AWA Board Member and Treasurer Steve Binnie also attended the UK Wagyu Revolution Conference and gave a commercial farmer's perspective on his switch from native-bred cattle and a handful of Wagyu in 2015 to having over 1,000 Wagyu calves on the ground in 2016.
He also summarised the latest findings of the world's leading researcher on the ‘healthiness' of marbled Wagyu beef, Dr Stephen Smith of Texas A&M, which indicate Wagyu beef contains extraordinary amounts of monounsaturated ‘healthy' oleic acid.
"Healthiness in all foods is a major focus, and none more so than at the premium pricing level. Customers willing and able to pay for the best expect the best, and that often equates to health benefits," he said.
The fundamental strategy of the WBA is for customers throughout the supply chain to have confidence in the integrity and provenance of Wagyu beef. Wagyu producers have at their disposal a cutting-edge, online registration and DNA tag interface which means animals can be marketed through established British Wagyu branding backed by robust science to ensure lifetime traceability.
Spanish Wagyu breeders signed an agreement last month to use the WBA Interface and roll out the same business model in their country. Concluding, Mr Truscott said: "AWA's Service Agreement with the Wagyu Breeders Association has been extended to include the whole of Europe, establishing Britain as a hub for channelling membership, registrations and data into Breedplan's single global Wagyu database."