Why Is Wagyu So Expensive? [Top 8 Reasons]

Wagyu beef is considered the most expensive beef in the world, and for good reason. The high price tag is due to the extraordinary qualities that make it a coveted cut of meat among chefs and anyone who loves a good steak.

In this blog post, we aim to explore some of the reasons why Wagyu is so expensive and how you can get your hands on some.

Why Is Wagyu So Expensive?

Quality and Taste

The quality of Wagyu is excellent – it has an intense marbling which gives it a unique flavor with more umami than other cuts of beef. The fat marbled throughout the tissue gives the steak its distinctive juicy texture when cooked, making it extremely tender. This means that you don’t have to use as many techniques while cooking like searing or braising to make sure that it doesn’t turn out dry and tasteless.

The intense flavor of Wagyu is also quite unique; unlike American steaks which are typically seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic, Wagyu’s distinctive flavor profile speaks for itself without any added seasoning.

Additionally, Wagyu also has higher levels of monounsaturated fatty acids than other cuts of beef, making it even healthier compared to other red meats. This means that not only do you get an intensely flavorful cut of meat but one that has beneficial health properties too!


Another major factor contributing to the hefty price tag attached to Wagyu is the fact that it’s an extremely rare breed of cattle native to Japan; there are fewer than 10 million head worldwide. This means that only very small amounts are available for export each year at premium prices so if you ever come across some you should count yourself lucky!

In Japan itself, there are stringent regulations in place regarding what constitutes “true” wagyu; such rules include where the cows must be raised (only certain prefectures), what they must be fed (grass-fed rather than grain-fed) and how long they must be aged (at least 28 months).

For those looking for authentic Japanese beef with assurance that these standards have been met one needs look no further than Kobe beef – arguably the most well-known type within Japan itself – as Kobe adheres strictly to all three criteria mentioned above.

Husbandry Practices

The highest-grade wagyu comes from cows raised in pampered conditions designed specifically to produce the best quality meat possible. This includes carefully controlling both their diet as well as their environment through access to fresh river water and massages amongst other things! All this results in higher costs associated with production which then need to be passed onto consumers looking for a taste experience unlike any other – truly something worth paying top dollar for!.

Export Restrictions

Due to its reputation as one of Japan’s favorite exports – not just foodstuffs but anything really – stringent export restrictions have been put in place limiting how much wagyu can be sent overseas every year. These limits are set by both national policies in Japan as well as international agreements between countries making importing Wagyu into other countries difficult or impossible at times depending on political climates or economic circumstances.

Furthermore, buyers need special permits from Japan’s Ministry Of Agriculture before exporting large amounts out of the country adding yet another layer of bureaucracy onto already existing hurdles! Therefore limited supply coupled with intense regulation means only small amounts find their way outside Japanese shores driving up costs even further still.

Aging Process

The aging process plays an integral role in determining whether or not a piece of meat deserves consideration for being labeled ‘Wagyu’ or not: aged cow produces far better tasting steaks according to professional tasters because naturally occurring enzymes work over time breaking down cells walls giving more tenderness along with richer flavors.

Aged wagyus have undergone far stricter requirements than those subjected solely to sixteen month maturing period – thirty six months being seen as the optimum time frame necessary before discerning connoisseurs deem them worthy enough to serve guests at expensive sushi restaurants around Tokyo!

Additionally, aging process causes fat content reduces greatly while levels of monounsaturated fats increase exponentially resulting in healthy alternative red meats doing rounds grocery stores these days..

Labor Costs

Producing Wagyus involves significant labor costs right from breeding healthy calves through careful selection of animals until the slaughtering stage., This entails constant monitoring of cared-for cattle ensuring their conditions remain optimal at all times further raising expenses incurred production process eventually leading to final retail price!

As such farmers dedicated to providing customers best produce often charge significantly higher prices to cover labor-intensive processes undertaken to ensure optimal outcomes!.

Slaughtering Process

The slaughtering process for Wagyu is also quite unique. The cattle must be raised humanely and slaughtered in a specific manner that utilizes traditional Japanese techniques that stick to the strict guidelines set out by the Japanese government. This means that the meat is of exceptional quality, but it also drives up costs accordingly.

The carcass is then broken down into prime cuts of steak according to how it was graded – with only the best cuts being labeled as ‘Kobe’ or ‘Wagyu’ at the slaughterhouse itself. All this ensures that only top-tier cuts of Wagyu make it through to market, pushing prices even higher due to the lack of supply available.

Grading System

The grading system used for Wagyu beef is one of the most rigorous and complex grading systems in all of sushi-making and could arguably be considered the benchmark for grading beef worldwide. It takes into account factors such as marbling, color, texture, and fat content to determine a grade from A5 (the highest) to C2 (the lowest).

This grading system sets a very high standard for what constitutes a high-quality cut of Wagyu steaks and sets prices accordingly; usually, A5 grade steaks will command a much higher price tag than lower grades like B or C.

Final Thoughts

It’s no wonder why Wagyu is so expensive – it’s an exceptionally rare breed native to Japan with very strict production regulations and intense labor costs associated with producing it not to mention the stringent grading system coupled with a lengthy aging process all resulting in highly sought after product commanding hefty price tags around the world!

But whatever you do, don’t let its cost deter you from trying some – once you’ve tasted authentic wagyus flavors there’s no going back!

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