We all know there is a process for evaluating Wagyu in Japan, but did you know that the procedure is very systematic and standardized? Inspectors use standardized practices across Japan to evaluate a Wagyu carcass’ grade. At Humans of Wagyu, we are proud to share the Wagyu experience straight from Japan. Here’s some insight in the process it takes to get that A5 rank!
BY THE JAPAN MEAT GRADING ASSOCIATION (JMGA)
These practices are monitored by the Japan Meat Grading Association (JMGA). JMGA is an independent organization that conducts the grading based on the standardized grading system used in the over 200 wholesale meat markets and meat centers across Japan.
The grading results, amongst other information, are provided to licensed purchasers, upon which they make their decisions on purchasing Wagyu. In addition, the information is also passed to the farmers, which allow them to continually improve their operation by identifying important data points of their work, and what the customers are looking for.
WHERE DO THEY ANALYZE?
The inspectors analyze the grades on the separation of Ribeye and Chuck Roll, on the sixth rib bone. In this section, inspectors take some measurements which are then input in a computer. On top of that, meat color and texture, and fat color and quality. After the data is collected and input in a computer program developed by the association, the program provides the results of the grades. Having an objective system to grade Wagyu, has resulted in the very clear and standard industry that it is today.
HOW IS IT ANALYZED?
The grading system is shown in the form of “an alphabet + number” and is divided into two main categories. One is Yield Grade, and the other is Meat Quality.
The Yield Grade (A, B, C) indicates how much meat could be taken from the carcass.
Grade A - at least 72% of yield
Grade B - between 69% and 72% of yield
Grade C - less than 69% of yield
This is calculated by a formula which includes the area of the ribeye, thickness of short ribs, weight of half carcass, subcutaneous fat and fat crossbreeding.
The Meat Quality section considers the meat color and shine, fat color and shine, firmness, texture, and as we all know - marbling. The two grading scales (Yield Grade and Meat Quality) combined, can result in the highest grade A5, to the lowest grade C1.
SO WHAT DOES A5 ACTUALLY MEAN?
When your Wagyu is graded A5, it means that the carcass had a high yield that could be used as beef, that the meat had good fat quality and color, good color of the beef, with a lot of fine fat.
The grading system for Japanese Wagyu is extremely developed and it's just one of the characteristics when it comes to selecting Wagyu. Wagyu selectors don’t only look at whether it’s A5 or not, and in fact, a lot of times they choose their Wagyu based on other factors such as farmer and genetics.