Wagyu reigns supreme in branded beef

Jon Condon, 07/06/2011

A Fullblood Japanese Wagyu entry carrying a marbling score of 9 showed why Wagyu has cemented itself at the apex of the global red meat pyramid when it claimed top honours at Australia’s largest branded beef contest earlier today.

The sample from the Australian Agricultural Company’s Master Kobe brand clinched the championship honours from 23 other entries in the 2011 Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show Branded Beef competition.

Master Kobe is AA Co’s global food service market flagship Wagyu brand, featuring only beef from Fullblood Japanese Wagyu cattle producing a marbling score of 9 or better, which equates to a premium A5 grade in the Japanese domestic grading system.

AA Co marketing and communications advisor Brad de Luca said cattle for the Master Kobe program were typically fed 500-600 days on a white grains based diet through the company’s Aronui feedlot on the Darling Downs, producing carcase weights of 400-500kg, averaging 420-480kg.

AA Co is expanding its herd of Japanese Fullblood breeders, based on high-performance Westholme genetics at its Wylarah backgrounding aggregation near Surat. The program currently turns off about 1500 compnay-bred fed cattle each year. The Fullblood rpogram is independent of much larger F1 and F2 Wagyu breeding programs on other AA Co properties further north. 

It was the first time that AA Co had entered its Fullblood product into an Australian branded beef contest, and the decision produced immediate results. Master Kobe is marketed mostly into high-end restaurants and hotels across North and South Asia, the Middle East and North America. A little finds its way onto the Australian domestic market.

A number of the eight judges involved in the 2011 competition felt that the grassfed division was the stand-out performer in this year’s competition, reflecting the strong growing season across Eastern Australia.

Topping the MSA grassfed class was a Cape Grim entry from processors HW Greenham & Sons in Tasmania. Displaying a surprising abundance of marbling for a grassfed carcase, the Cape Grim product is Angus-based grown out to export weights (300kg+ carcases) in Tasmania’s lush northwestern pastures. Most of the carcases grade MSA boning groups 1 and 2 in the chillers. The brand carries a minimum marbling score of 2, and the competition entry was at least a BMS 4. 

The Open class (non MSA and/or Organic) produced a win for Oakey Reserve, a non-HGP 115-day grainfed produced out of Nippon Meat Packers’ Whyalla feedlot on the NSW/Qld border.
Oakey Reserve, carrying a distinctive royal purple carton lid, is directed primarily at the EU grainfed beef trade. A second Nippon Meat Packers entry, Borthwicks Organic, was placed second in the same class.

In the MSA grainfed division, consistent performer Stockyard Beef claimed first place with a sample of its Stockyard Gold, brand, a 200-day grainfed Angus program produced out of the company’s Kerwee feedlot on the Darling Downs. 

RQFWS chief judge Russell Smith said 2011 was a closely-fought contest and the winners in all categories from grassfed to Wagyu to organic were truly world-class.

“Producers are combining great tenderness, with silky texture and wonderful flavour which results in a melt-in-the-mouth experience,” he said.

“The Wagyu was superb with world-class marbling while the grassfed class would easily compete with the best-of-the-best internationally. All this bodes well for the industry and importantly the consumer,” Mr Smith said.



Grain-Fed MSA class –
Gold: Stockyard Beef Pty Ltd’s Stockyard Gold, (Qld); Silver: Coles Supermarkets, Coles Finest Steak (Vic); Bronze: JBS Australia’s Beef City Black (Qld)

Grassfed MSA class-
Gold: HW Greenham Tasmania Pty Ltd, Cape Grim Natural Beef, (Tas); Silver: Rangeland Quality Meats Pty Ltd, Rangeland Beef (Qld); Bronze: Certified Australian Angus Beef, Angus Pure (processor, T & R Pastoral Pty Ltd (SA).

Wagyu Class –
Gold: Australian Agricultural Co, Master Kobe, Qld); Silver: Stockyard Beef Pty Ltd, Stockyard Silver Wagyu (Qld); Bronze: AA Co, Darling Downs Wagyu (Qld).

Open Class (Non-MSA and/or Organic) –
Gold: Oakey Holdings, Oakey Reserve HGP Free (Qld); Silver: Thos Borthwick & Sons, Borthwick Organic (Qld); Bronze: HW Greenham Pty Ltd, Tasmanian Natural Beef (Tas).

  • Read Beef Central publisher, Jon Condon’s impressions of today’s branded beef competition judging by clicking here.


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