Why Is Wagyu Beef So Expensive?

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 | 0 Comments
Why is wagyu beef so expensive

Have you ever wondered why wagyu beef is so expensive? For a simple steak, it sure has a hefty price tag compared to USDA Prime beef. Why is that? Is it really worth the cost? 

Maybe you've heard of wagyu beef and wondered if it's worth the price. Or perhaps you're shopping for the perfect gift for a steak lover and feeling a bit wowed by the price tags you're seeing. While wagyu beef may not be everyone’s first choice, there are many reasons that connoisseurs are willing to pay top dollar for it, and we're going to break those down to help you decide if wagyu is an item on your must-try foodie bucket list! Read on to learn all about why wagyu beef is so expensive. 


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What Is Wagyu?

Wagyu beef is a type of high-quality beef that comes from Japan. It’s incredibly sought-after and renowned for its exceptional marbling and unparalleled tenderness. 

While someone may ask why wagyu beef is so expensive before they try it, they likely won’t question further once they’ve had a taste. The meat has a distinctive buttery texture and melt-in-your-mouth sensation. Many people claim that the taste and texture make the price worthwhile. 

Wagyu beef is the result of meticulous breeding and rearing practices. The rearing of wagyu cattle follows a tradition that prioritizes their well-being. The cattle are raised in a stress-free environment with individualized care to ensure their physical and emotional comfort. They have a unique feeding regimen that includes a balanced and high-quality diet that contributes to the formation of the characteristic marbling.

Wagyu beef is graded on a specific system. If you’ve wondered why A5 wagyu is so expensive, even in comparison to other types, it’s because it’s the best of the best according to that system. Japanese A5 wagyu is top-tier. Kobe beef and Matsusaka beef are two other specific types of wagyu that rate incredibly high on the scale due to its flavor and incredible marbling. 

wagyu marbling
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How Much Does Wagyu Beef Cost?

So now that that’s out of the way, how much does wagyu beef cost anyway? 

Well, it depends. Because there are different “tiers” of wagyu beef, prices vary. Depending on where you buy your wagyu and what cut of steak you’re buying, you can expect to pay between $50 and $250 per pound of beef (though there are outliers on either side of that range). 

If you’re a new chef learning how to cook meat, you may want to skip the wagyu until you’re more confident in your skills. Cooking classes near you can help with that confidence so you don’t have to learn on your own and can avoid some common rookie mistakes (which, in this case, would be quite expensive mistakes to make). Take a few cooking classes in Dallas, cooking classes in New Orleans or even online cooking classes to learn a thing or two about proper techniques so you can treat the wagyu with the care it deserves. 

Why is wagyu beef so expensive?
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Why Is Wagyu Beef So Expensive?

So why is wagyu meat so expensive? There are several factors that make wagyu such a high-end delicacy.

1. Limited Land

When people consider what a “reasonable” cost of meat should be, they often compare it to the cost of the meat they can find in any local grocery store. That’s often far cheaper, so why is wagyu so expensive in comparison? 

Most of the meat you buy in the grocery store comes from factory farms with plenty of land and plenty of cows. Wagyu beef, however, comes from Japan, which is far smaller than the United States. The feedlots in Japan may only hold anywhere between 10 and 100 cattle. This means that the cattle raised for wagyu beef are in far shorter supply, and thus, that contributes to why wagyu beef is so expensive. 

Why is wagyu beef so expensive? Partially the land.
via Canva

2. Cost of Feeding

Wagyu cattle aren’t fed like normal cattle. They’re fed on a specialized high-energy diet that keeps them happy and healthy while contributing to their famous marbling. They get three meals per day, and the food in those meals is often imported from other countries. In other words, these cows have expensive diets! If their food is expensive, it’s going to contribute to why wagyu beef is so expensive.  

wagyu in Japan
via Canva

3. In-Depth Care 

Not only are wagyu cattle fed better food than other cattle, but they’re also fed for longer. Many domestic farms only feed their cattle for around 120 days. Wagyu cattle are fed for over 600 days.

These cows receive excellent care for well over a year, and sometimes over two years. Aside from their longer feeding time, they’re also given health check-ups, provided with a stimulating environment, and overall treated well by specialized farmers who dedicate their lives to keeping these expensive cows happy and healthy. 

So why is wagyu beef so expensive? Happy and healthy cows cost more! 

wagyu cow in Japan
via Canva

4. Import Costs

Finally, let’s discuss import costs. Wagyu beef comes from Japan. Because of that, if you want it in America, it needs to be imported. There’s an import quota in the United States, and once that quota has been met, a high import tax is added to all future imports. 

That means that the beef has to be priced higher as a result. Consumers end up paying for that import tax. That’s another reason why wagyu beef is so expensive.

high marbling in wagyu
via Canva

So now that you know why wagyu beef is so expensive, are you going to give that luxury meat a try? Treat yourself to a delicious wagyu steak this year and check it off your foodie bucket list. You deserve it. 

For even more ways to explore your favorite foods, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.