Alliance Launches Wagyu Premium Programme

17 Feb 2022

Alliance Group Ltd (AGL) has launched a Wagyu beef programme to farmers as it tries to capture greater value for its products.

The new programme has farmers offered a supply contract premium above the ruling schedule at the time of processing for qualifying stock that meets the requirements for the range.

Carcases must meet certain marbling, pH levels, fat colour and meat colour specifications to achieve the premium, which starts at 40c per kilo and ranges as high as $3 per kilo above the schedule price.

North Canterbury farmer James Thompson was one of the first in the country to supply Wagyu cattle to the programme and was happy with the results.

The 18-month cattle were killed in November at about 340kg carcase weight (CW), earning him a $2 premium above schedule.

“It worked out at about a $23/week return so we were pleased with that,” Thompson said.

He has been farming Wagyu for two and a half years, as well as supplying Alliance with Ile de France sheep for its Silere programme.

Thompson said he has been wanting a premium product range within the meat industry for years.

“The red meat commodity hasn’t served us well in the past and personally I think if there’s options like this – and there are other programmes out there, it’s good news,” he said.

Red Wagyu and Black Wagyu are different breeds of Japanese cattle, both known for their high intramuscular fat content and marbling ability.

Red Wagyu’s fat is described as more like olive oil, while Black Wagyu’s fat has a buttery nature. Both are high in good oleic acid and low in cholesterol.

He buys the Wagyu as 100kg calves from rearers, who grow them as part of the Southern Stations Wagyu (SSW) programme.


“They come in around mid-summer and we hold them for 18 months. For the programme they have to be above 270kg carcase weight (CW),” he said.


AGL is partnering with SSW for the Wagyu programme. SSW will market genetics from its established Australian-based Red Wagyu bulls to New Zealand farmers to inseminate suitable dairy or beef cows or heifers.


The DNA-verified weaned calves will be sold through SSW to approved finishers participating in the programme.


He said the cattle has to meet specifications in order to qualify for the premium available.


Meeting those specifications was also the biggest challenge farming these cattle because he could do all the work, but if the cattle did not meet the grade, he does not get the premium.


“The Wagyu programme won’t suit everybody, but it will suit some farmers who enjoy seeing cattle finished rather than sold because of drought,” he said.


“If they can be supplemented and finished through to a big weight, it’s nice to see the results.”


AGL general manager of livestock and shareholder services Danny Hailes said they had listened to their farmers after being told they wanted better opportunities with the beef they supply.


“This Wagyu programme provides our farmers with an opportunity to tap into the growing number of discerning customers around the world who are willing to pay a price premium for naturally-raised beef and attributes guaranteed by a brand they trust,” Hailes said.

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