Where to buy real Wagyu online

Finding authentic Wagyu beef online can be challenging. To say that the most premium Japanese A5 Wagyu beef is rare is an understatement. This combination of a limited supply, a high demand, and just a fraction of the meat exported from Japan, makes finding real Wagyu beef tricky. Like any luxury product, there are bound to be knock-offs, or in the case of Wagyu, imitation Wagyu.

Home cooks trying to figure out where to buy real Wagyu online may see websites selling American Wagyu or Australian Wagyu during their search. Unless you know where to look, you may end-up overpaying for an imitation, when you want to buy the real thing. 

To help protect consumers from purchasing fake or “mislabeled” Wagyu, we’ve put together a few tips to make shopping for genuine Japanese Wagyu beef easier.


Separating real Japanese Wagyu beef from the imposters

True Wagyu beef is known for its deep, beautiful marbling and difficult to describe flavor. The most popular way to describe the experience of tasting real Japanese Wagyu beef is that it’s so tender and richly marbled with fat that it literally melts in the mouth. 

The first thing to keep in mind when trying to figure out where to buy Wagyu beef online is that the average consumer is competing with world famous restaurants, private luxury buyers, and purveyors who have generational connections with the farmers who raise the cows that are ultimately sold for meat. 

Competition for Japanese Wagu beef is fierce.


Country of Origin

 No matter what online retail beef stores say, Wagyu meat from America and Australia comes from a hybrid cow, not a purebred Wagyu cow. In the US, these cows are usually crossed with Angus cattle, and in Australia, they’re typically crossed with Heifers

Japanese Wagyu cows, on the other hand, come from four breeds: Japanese black (the most widely raised), brown (also referred to as ‘red’), polled (hornless), and shorthorn. A great deal of attention is paid to the diet of Wagyu cows: they enjoy more grazing time than cows in the US and Australia, and each farm also supplements the grass-fed diet with a special feed that is unique to the farming family and has taken generations to perfect.

Add to this other factors like the extremely low stress environment, high-level of care provided by farm owners, and you have a very special product that isn’t easily replicated. Japan considers Wagyu cows a source of national pride, and this is reflected in the way the cows are raised and handled.

When shoppers think of Wagyu beef, it may help to think of Wagyu the same way consumers think of wine, and the important role terroir plays in the final product.


Red Flags

Sellers of real Wagyu beef online are proud to share that the beef is imported directly from Japan. They will also share the distinct region the beef is from: Hokkaido, Kagoshima, Kobe or Miyazaki, for example.

Be aware of low-priced Wagyu that is advertised as genuine Japanese Wagyu beef. The demand for the most premium cuts of A5 and A4 Wagyu are in such high demand that they should never be on sale. These cuts regularly sell for upwards of $200/pound. If you see prices that don’t reflect this premium, it’s probably not genuine Wagyu beef.


Final Tip

Unfortunately, beef claiming to be “American Wagyu” or “Australian Wagyu”, or even “American Kobe” beef is not the same as Wagyu from Japan. Authentic Wagyu is an investment. If you’re looking for real Japanese A5 Wagyu beef, be prepared to pay for it’s true value.

Ordering Wagyu beef online is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be, and for a truly memorable meal, this special treat is worth every dollar!

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