Kobe beef and Wagyu are terms that are too often used interchangeably. Although all Kobe beef can be classified as Wagyu, the term Wagyu itself can be used for a variety of different types of beef. Wagyu literally translates to mean “Japanese Cow”. However, Kobe beef must be of Tajima gyu genetics, born in the Hyogo prefecture, fed to a minimum of 26 months, and meet strict grading requirements.
Kobe beef is a brand of Wagyu, and the standards this brand follows are amazingly strict and precise. In order to qualify as Kobe Beef:
- The steer must be of the Tajima cattle breed, meaning a Japanese Black raised in the Hyogo prefecture in Japan.
- Cattle must be born, fed, and processed in the Hyogo prefecture.
- When graded, the score must be A4 or higher, with a BMS 6 or higher.
- The gross weight of beef produced from one animal must be 470 kgs, (~1,036 lbs) or less.
- Beef must be marked with a Japanese Chrysanthemum as part of their security system.
- Beef must have fine meat texture and excellent firmness.
Kobe Beef is a specific brand of Wagyu that many may claim to provide. However, it is important to note that Kobe-Style Wagyu beef is not the same as the branded Kobe Beef. Although many may know of the term “Kobe Beef”, actual Kobe Beef in the United States is quite rare. Limited availability and strict standards contribute to a tight supply of Kobe Beef.
Wagyu is a much broader term used when describing beef from Japanese cattle. In order to be classified as Wagyu, beef must be produced from the following four breeds:
- Japanese Black (most common)
- Japanese Brown
- Japanese Shorthorn
- Japanese Polled
The term “Wagyu” is an umbrella term used to encompass any cattle, purebred or interbred, between the four breeds of Japanese cattle. Wagyu can be crossbred, purebred, or full-blooded, and does not necessarily need to be raised in Japan. Many producers outside of Japan are producing crossbred Wagyu. For example, there is American Wagyu, Australian Wagyu, and Chilean Wagyu. Learn more about how to differentiate between Wagyu here: https://wagyushop.com/pages/the-world-of-wagyu