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What Does the Wagyu Rating System Mean?

What Does the Wagyu Rating System Mean?

I’m sure you’ve heard of Wagyu beef, but did you ever wonder about the letters and numbers that often come in front of it?
At a lucky restaurant or grocer that happens to offer the luxury meat, you might find a label something like the following:

  • A5 Wagyu beef
  • B4 Wagyu beef
  • A3 Wagyu beef

So, what’s the deal with those letters and numbers? Let’s find out!

What is the Wagyu beef grading system?

The JMGA Beef Carcass Grading Standard is the grading system used to measure the quality of Wagyu beef in Japan. The system was created and run by the Japanese Meat Grading Association (the JMGA you see in the name above). 
You might be familiar with the USDA’s version of this in America, where beef is graded either prime, choice, select, standard, commercial, utility, cutter and canner — with prime being the best.
With Wagyu beef, there are two measurements to know about. The first is the yield grade, where the beef is rated either A, B, or C, with A being the best. The second is the quality grade, which is given a rating of 5 to 1, with 5 being the highest.
For the yield grade, appraisers take measurements between the 6th and 7th rib section, and then mathematically estimate the yield of the beef, or how much meat exists compared to the total weight of the body. 
This is how it looks like in practice:

  • Grade A: 72% and above
  • Grade B: 69% and above
  • Grade C: under 69%

The quality grade is a bit more complex. This is classified into 5 grades based on a ranking from 1–12 in marbling, meat firmness, texture, brightness, and fat brightness and quality.
The end user doesn’t see the second layer above, but rather just a score from 1 to 5, based on the following:

  • 5-Excellent: score of 8–12
  • 4-Good: Score of 5–7
  • 3-Average: Score of 3–4
  • 2-Below Average: Score of 2
  • 1-Poor: Score of 1

In terms of visuals, the quality grade would look something like this. Notice how marbling is the main objective for getting a high rating.



So, now that you know the two factors that go into grading Japanese Wagyu beef, be sure to pay only the right amount for the right grade you’re looking for.
If you want the cream of the crop, always choose A5 Wagyu!
But don’t worry, just because it’s a lower rating doesn’t mean it’s not still great. But if you can afford the absolute luxury of eating Wagyu beef in the first place, why not go for the best of the best while you’re at it?
That’s what we do here at Wagyuman after all! All of our Wagyu beef is imported directly from Japan and we’re the only company in the U.S. that imports whole cattle and butchers them at our own facility.
Check out our wide selection of succulent Japanese Wagyu today!

Photo credits:
1. http://www.jmi.or.jp/en/info/index2.html

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