Passion for Marbled Beef
Dr Willie van Heerden shares the his expertise on Wagyu beef and the auctions held online regularly by Absolute Wagyu
Tell us briefly about Absolute Wagyu and what you offer.
Absolute Wagyu is the culmination of a shared passion and vision to produce the very best marbled beef the world has to offer: Wagyu. Our company is primarily focussed on accessing the top 1% of Wagyu genetics available overseas and then multiplying these genetics in SA using advanced reproductive techniques. To enable this, we built a world-class veterinary reproductive facility in Bloemfontein. These genetics are used as nucleus herds for further breeding. Wagyu is, however, all about the end product and therefore our expansion into the beef industry was the natural evolution of our business. We are currently expanding our meat production due to increased demand from consumers.
Why should chefs get excited about the monthly auction that you hold?
The Wagyu X auction is a unique opportunity to purchase Wagyu carcasses on an open market system, bidding per kg. As chefs prefer to do their own processing of meat cuts, this ensures they get the best prices. It also gives them freedom to optimise the usage of each carcass.
What’s unique about the auction?
The auction caters mainly for Wagyu genetic sales, but is also the only online site offering Wagyu carcasses on sale in SA. The public has full transparency on bidding as well as the product that they are purchasing, with photos and data available for each carcass.
What should a perfect cut of Wagyu look like?
Wagyu is all about intra-muscular fat or marbling. The meat texture is finer, resulting in a more flavoursome eating experience that can be described as melting in your mouth. Price is determined by the amount and fineness of marbling. The marbling is distributed throughout the carcass; this means that cuts previously considered as not desirable can be utilised with great effect! The fore-quarter also produces some excellent cuts either for the grill or the oven. Everything on a Wagyu carcass up to burger patties is considered superior to other beef worldwide.
What are your thoughts on the meat industry in South Africa?
The general beef industry in SA is far behind our overseas counterparts regarding meat grading, classification and traceability. Wagyu is a worldwide commodity because it offers a premium product unlike any other beef. With our certification protocol we can compete on a global market. South Africans appreciates top quality meat and are also willing to pay a premium price for it.
Your beef obviously has a special certification. What does this entail?
With regards to the grading of marbled beef in South Africa, the Wagyu Society has spent a considerable amount of time and money in setting up and registering the Certified South African Wagyu Beef trademark. This certification trademark together with all its accompanying protocols has been approved by DAFF (Department Agriculture, Forestries and Fisheries) and will be regulated by SAMIC (South African Meat Industry Corporation).
Certification entails full traceability with DNA verified animals, as well as regular audits on feeding regimes, animal welfare and end product quality to the consumer. Read more about this in SA Chef Issue 13