SPECIALIST Wagyu breeder and retailer Pete Cabassi says it is a constant challenge to have sufficient quantities of the highly marbled product on hand at his gourmet butcher shop in Coorparoo, Queensland.
Mr Cabassi, who operates Kobe’s of White Hill in inner-city Brisbane suburb, said there was still a major gap in production compared to the constant demand from urban consumers.
“Wagyu is absolutely dominated by the 90 per cent-plus sales that exist in the export market,” Mr Cabassi said (pictured on the opposite page).
“It means so much product is going overseas it can be difficult to have enough product in store just to meet our customers expectations.
“We certainly like the buzz that accompanies the arrival of new product each fortnight, but we could certainly sell a lot more if it was available.”
Mr Cabassi said there was no doubting the future of the Wagyu industry.
“It is now plain to see that Wagyu has begun to embed itself into the most powerful extensive cattle raising operations and is increasing at a rapid rate,” Mr Cabassi said.
“This industry is vibrant, aggressive and growing.”
Australian Wagyu Association president Peter Gilmour said the industry was very much in a growth phase. Over time it was likely numbers would double.
“We’ve come from a few hundreds animals in the early 1990s to having about 36,000 full blood and pure bred Wagyu animals,” Mr Gilmour said.
“We also estimate there are about 400,000 crossbred animals in the national herd, that are found across a wide range of climatic conditions including the hot pastoral regions.
“I think we’ve well on the way having more than a million Wagyu cattle in Australia over time.”
Japan has about 1.4 million Wagyu cattle.
Mr Gilmour said the advent of genomics was enabling the industry to more accurately predict the production potential of individual animals.
“Feedlot capacity will always be a constraining factor for long fed animals,” Mr Gilmour said. “Wagyus typically go into a feedlot for 350-500 days meaning they take up a lot of time compared to short fed cattle.”