International Demand exceeds supply

The theme for day two was “celebrating the product”. It started with a Wagyu Cookoff between chefs from four associations and included South African Pete Goffe-Wood, a Masterchef presenter, and Mark Wright from the Majura Tasting room. The Tasting room was voted Australia’s best steakhouse restaurant in 2014 and 2018. This cookoff had chefs explaining their favourite cuts, and the Akaushi Association high-lighted the distinct advantages of Wagyu meat from an older cow.

Charlie Bradbury (JBS USA), Andrew Cox (MLA Aus-tralia) and JK Ha (Supermarket promotions USA) gave compelling talks regarding the future of prospects for premium beef. Charlie Bradbury mentioned the serious shortage of Wagyu product in the USA. Covid-19 has increased demand because retailers were also able to purchase product due to the temporary closure of many restaurants. Wagyu can now be found on 3-4% of all menus. His advice was to keep your message and promise of the product simple. The JBS message is that Wagyu has the best eating experience, and this is all they focus on. All the other attributes are important but often confuse the consumer, says Charlie. Matthew Cox mentioned that despite Covid-19, there are mil-lions of consumers that have an income of above US$ 75 000 per annum. Important is taste, integrity of the product, culture, and health. JK Ha, representing Akaushi, mentioned that the export to high value mar-kets such as South Korea, Japan and Asia remains strong.

Dr Alison van Eenennaam spoke about why innova-tion is important for the future of beef production, including gene-editing. Scientific selection has had pos-itive consequences through the decades. In 1961, there were about 97 million cattle (which were generally very large animals) in America with which produced 7.4 million tons of meat. Today, 92 million cattle produce 12.7 million tons of meat; thus, producing more meat per animal which also reduces agriculture’s footprint on the environment.