Comment: Fancy a €598 steak. Yes, you did read that correctly, five hundred and ninety eight euros per kilogram, the price at which Wagyu beef fillets can retail for in Germany.

A recent article in Der Speigel International profiled a farmer in Germany rearing Japanese “Wagyu” cattle. These animals that have a typical slaughter weight less than 500 kilograms, and take about 36 months to reach slaughter weight. The meat from these animals is much sought after for its tenderness, marbling and aromatic characteristics. A typical Wagyu carcass can sell for about €20,000.

The farmer profiled in Germany feeds his Wagyus a diet of fresh hay soaked in beer (apparently the beer helps tenderise the muscle fibres). Housed in light-filled barns, the farmer also plays the soothing music of Simon & Garfunkel to enhance the ambience and comfort for the animals in the barn.

With Ireland’s natural grass-based grazing systems, are we doing enough to capitalise on the uniqueness, the quality and the naturalness of our product?

Consumers value and appreciate good-quality food. With all our natural advantages, the question remains, are we doing enough in Ireland to carve out (pardon the pun) our own niche thereby adding value to our beef and to market it accordingly as a premium product?

By Tom O’Callaghan 

Tom O’Callaghan has 15 years of global experience in the agri-food sector, including dairy, meat, consumer package goods, bio-fuels and farming-owned co-operatives. He is currently focusing on emerging area of improving efficiency through agri-analytics and is advising on agri-food and farm efficiency expansion across Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union countries. He is also the ex-ceo of ICOS.