In Japan, beef quality is commonly referenced to the marbling content which is graded on a Beef Marbling Standard of No. 1 – 12, with No. 1 having practically no marbling to No. 12 being completely white with marbling. The Japanese Beef Marbling Grading is very strict. Based on our own visual evaluation, if we were to use the Japanese scale of BMS 1 – 12, our comparison of the Japanese, Australian, American Wagyu Beef and Canadian Graded Beef products in terms of marbling would be as follows. (Please note this is our opinion and differs from the official grading parameters used for BMS grading in Japan.)
|Grade ||BMS Grade |
|Canada A |
American Kobe Beef (Black)
American Kobe Beef (Gold)
Australian Wagyu (MB9+)
Japanese Wagyu (A4)
Japanese Wagyu (A5)
|BMS No. 1 |
BMS No. 2
BMS No. 3
BMS No. 4
BMS No. 5
BMS No. 6
BMS No. 7-8
BMS No. 8-9
BMS No. 9-10
Japanese Wagyu A5 Grade is rare even in Japan. An A5 grade with BMS 11 or 12 is extremely rare and in most likelihood has not yet been exported overseas.
Studies have indicated that Angus beef averages BMS of 2 but cannot achieve BMS greater than 5. On the other hand, Wagyu cattle averages BMS 4 – 6 but depending on quality of genetics, controlled feeding program and age at time of slaughter, can on very rare occasions reach the top grade of BMS 12. In Japan, for beef cuts to be considered of ‘Kobe’ quality, they must exhibit BMS of 5 or higher. Therefore, Nikuya only imports products higher than the American Kobe Beef Black Grade (BMS 5).
Marbling is one factor which determines meat quality. Usually more marbling equates to more tenderness. More equally distributed marbling equates to more consistent tenderness and flavour throughout the piece of meat. More marbling combined with more consistent marbling equates to better piece of meat since it is more difficult to produce a product with finer streaks of marbling that is consistently distributed throughout the piece of meat. Therefore, pricing of the Wagyu Beef products are usually consistent with the products marbling. The highest marbled product from Japan would be most expensive, followed by Australian and American.
Flavour on the other hand is mainly dependent on the feed given to the animals. The Japanese and Australian products are raised to meet the taste profile preferred mainly by the Japanese market. Therefore, these products provide a silky rich flavour and a mild well-rounded taste. On the other hand, although the American Kobe Beef is not as well marbled as the other two products, it has a very unique ‘buttery’ flavour.
Each product line targets different customers.
- Japanese product – geared towards customers who demand the absolute best without compromise.
- Australian product – geared towards customers who want a similar experience but need to take cost into consideration.
- American product – geared towards customers who want a uniquely excellent experience and with the best value.