The Wagyu Breeders Association held its Open Meeting & AGM on 14th April at Wyndford Wagyu, Shropshire, courtesy of Philip Maddocks. A great turnout saw members and guests joined by sponsors and partners along with Wagyu breeders from Northern Ireland, Germany and Republic of Ireland.
Welcoming all attendees, Company Secretary Richard Saunders reported that the association was continuing to grow at pace both in terms of numbers of cattle registrations. With a membership with over 13,000 Wagyu sired births – up about a third on the year – and more than 150 Fullblood breeders, commercial and associate members. Wagyu is a unique breed with unique opportunities.
He explained that Wagyu is a special breed of cattle with a genetic predisposition to be easy calving with low birthweight, short gestation, easy managed and very fertile. Then comes Wagyu’s USP – its great marbling which not only brings a tender, rich and juicy taste, but is full of monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid, omega 3s and 6s – the heart-healthy ‘good’ fats. “So, all in all we have a fantastic and unique product. The breed itself, its highly marbled meat plus let’s not forget Wagyu’s ability to deliver a premium to all parts of the supply chain,” he said.
He concluded by saying the WBA also has major industry backing with a number of important retailers on board. MIJ carcase camera technology alongside a partnership with the Australian Wagyu Association would further allow the association to measure, record and reward the quality it produces. WBA Directors Chris Dickinson, Hugh Pocock, Jim Bloom and Philip Maddocks for a Q&A session on British Wagyu’s vision and growth plan for the association. This included news of the new digital marketing campaign highlighting Wagyu as the world’s luxury beef. Followed by details of the further roll-out of the innovative quality assurance scheme. The Directors felt that up to now British Wagyu had been promoted well to the beef industry. But the next step was to embark on an ambitious marketing plan aimed at the public in terms of ‘push-pull’ momentum so that consumers generate demand which in turn drives the whole industry forward. It was felt that the association had only just scratched the surface in promoting the eating quality and health benefits of Wagyu. Having already established a set of standards for its premium British Wagyu marque, the WBA announced details of an agreement put in place with an independent certifying organisation, to further bolster and protect its British Wagyu Quality Assurance branding.
Wyndford Wagyu Commercial Director, Jess Edwards, then led a tour of the farm giving an in-depth explanation of their seedstock and embryo programme, calf-rearing protocols encompassing feed and nutrition, selection and breeding, finishing diets. The day concluded with a delicious lunch and Wagyu tasting menu. Members went away full of enthusiasm and praise for a well-run and informative day. Grateful thanks re extended to all the team at Wyndford Wagyu especially Philip Maddocks and Jess Edwards.