THANKS to growing demand for Wagyu, combined with the Japanese government’s strong commitment to grow the industry, Japan’s beef exports during 2014 reached 1251 tonnes (shipped weight) – up 38 per cent from the previous year and the highest on record, reports Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

Beef shipments from Japan, presumably the majority of product being Wagyu (rather than less valued Japanese crossbred or dairy beef), reached a variety of destinations in 2014, including Hong Kong, the US, and Singapore.

Japanese Wagyu beef export destinations expanded in 2014, with product sent to 17 markets which included new destinations like Holland, the UK, Belgium and the Philippines. Product was also sent to Tajikistan, Bangladesh, and Mongolia.

While the total volume was extremely small in the global beef trade context, its high value – averaging 6529 yen/kg (A$68.5/kg) – and growing demand for authentic, highly marbled quality beef from Japan, are key features that the Australian beef industry continues to monitor closely.

Wagyu is now the eighth largest breed in Australia, and Australian Wagyu Association president Scott de Bruin says the Association is preparing for substantial growth over the next few years.

The Australian Wagyu Association says Australia currently exports up to 15,000 live Wagyu feeder cattle to Japan annually, but the future market growth is expected to be boxed Wagyu beef exported to global markets.

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