Marketing: US crowd-funder launches high-end Japanese Wagyu project

Beef Central, 11/07/2017

A US-based crowd-funder which has established a niche selling grassfed beef direct to US consumers has expanded its operations to include Japanese Wagyu beef, sourced direct from Japan.

A sample of Crowd Cow’s imported Japanese A5 Wagyu product, being sold direct to US consumers through crowd-funding. Click on image for a larger view

Seattle food startup Crowd Cow, which operates crowd funding campaigns for individual certified grassfed US beef cattle, says its crowd-funding approach eliminates the middleman and brings grass-fed beef directly to the US consumer’s doorstep.

Now, the company is getting ready to further disrupt the US beef market by offering ‘foodies’ access to high quality imported Japanese A5 Wagyu beef.

This month Crowd Cow will start selling Japanese A5 Wagyu from cattle sourced directly from Mirai Farm in the Kagoshima prefecture of southern Japan. Japan only recently re-gained access for beef exports to the US market, having been shut-out due to concerns over BSE and FMD.

“By becoming a crowd-funding ‘Steak-holder,’ US consumers can for the first time buy specific portions of a Japanese A5 Wagyu carcase online, claiming their favourite cuts (rib steaks, New York steaks, and tenderloins, plus secondary primals), and having the beef delivered directly to their doorstep,” a company statement said.

Crowd Cow said some steak cuts would be available for as little as $79 each. Due to quotas in Japan restricting the amount of Wagyu that can be exported each year, sales will only be available while supplies last.

“In Japan, A5 Wagyu is a prized delicacy and known for literally melting in your mouth, but it is very difficult to find in the US,” the company said.

“Even when you do find A5 Wagyu in the US, it’s only available at select restaurants such as the Wynn resort in Las Vegas where it is featured for $640 to $880 per pound,” said Yusuke Amamiya, a Crowd Cow customer from Japan currently living in Seattle.

“It is the most unbelievable tasting beef you will ever have and it’s amazing that I can now order it online and have it delivered right to my doorstep at a fraction of the cost.”

“Japanese A5 Wagyu contains mostly monounsaturated fatty acids (“the good fats”), which are rich in Omega-3s,” Crowd cow says. “In fact, the unique fat composition of Japanese A5 Wagyu gives it a melting point of only 77°F, meaning it will not only melt in your mouth, but also your hand. Even the best USDA prime Angus beef favoured in most American steakhouses reaches less than half the level of marbling of Japanese A5 Wagyu,” the crowd funder says.

Crowd Cow says its Japanese A5 Wagyu beef has received the highest possible mark from the Japan Meat Grading Association, which gives each carcase a score based on its yield (A-C) and level of marbling, fineness of marbling, firmness, colour and overall quality (1-5).

Direct sourcing

“With competition for limited Japanese exports high from other countries including China, Thailand and Singapore, access in the US to A5 typically comes in through importers and distributors who have worked hard to secure the relationships necessary to obtain supply. These distributors sell to high-end restaurants who can afford to pass along these costs and charge their customers a high-enough price to still make a return,” Crowd Cow says.

“This makes it difficult for Wagyu lovers to find A5 Wagyu that they can cook at, prepared the way they want to.”

“Japanese Wagyu beef is rarely imported, and when it is, it usually goes through a distributor, so the final customer and even the restaurant are several steps removed from the farmer,” said Joe Heitzeberg, Crowd Cow’s co-founder.

“It’s an honour and privilege to have developed a relationship with Itoham (one of Japan’s largest meat companies) and Mirai Farm for direct supply to US consumers,” he said.


About Crowd Cow

Crowd Cow was founded in 2015 by start-up veterans Ethan Lowry and Joe Heitzeberg. Backed by the likes of NFL football great Joe Montana, the founders of Zulily and venture firms such as Fuel Capital and Maveron, Crowd Cow says it makes it “fun and convenient for US consumers nationwide to order from independent farms, and enjoy the great taste and transparency of sustainably-raised beef.”


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