Ido Fishman Explains Why Wagyu (Japanese) and Hanwoo (Korean) Beef Are So Expensive

What determines a good barbeque or a steak? It is not about the spices or the sauces or the side dishes, the quality of the meat determines whether the barbeque of steak is top-tier or regular. Many fancy restaurants use expensive meats and ingredients for their steaks but their prices all vary depending on the type of beef they use. Various meat businesses compete to become the best meat supplier in the market. The quality of the meet is determined by its texture, color, fat composition, and many other factors. Many countries put a lot of resources into improving the quality of their cattle.


One of the leading countries that provide the most sought-after breed of beef in Japan, who’s cattle produce of Wagyu beef is considered to be the best in the whole world. Wagyu beef is closely rivaled by Hanwoo beef which is the beef attained from specially bred Korean cattle. Ido Fishman explains that these beef are highly desired because of their beautiful marble-like structure which is made up of thin layers of fat and perfectly pink meat. Their rich taste and butter-like tendency to melt in the mouth while eating. Japanese and Korean cuisines masterfully incorporate their respective beef into their dishes to create incomparable delicacies.

Ido Fishman, an international food critic, among his many other titles, describes what exactly makes Wagyu and Hanwoo beef so expensive. He shares the qualities that both types of meat possess and what makes them stand out in terms of taste, texture, and breeding process.

Wagyu Beef

Japan’s leading product is the Wagyu beef which is certified to be one of the healthiest meats that can be produced. The Wagyu cattle produce beef that produces highly marbled beef and is well known for its potential of developing accumulating IMF. A single pound of Wagyu beef in the United States can cause as much as $200, while a single adult Wagyu cow sells for around $30,000. You will realize the huge difference in value when you compare it with the black Angus cattle, a breed that is sought-after in the U.S. and Australia, which don’t sell for more than $3,000.

The cattle are bred for physical endurance which increases their lean-fat mass. High-quality meat is one that is significantly marbled and Wagyu beef has the highest marbling ratio in the world. The marbling of meat starts occurring when the cattle are around 12 months old and it develops for the next 36 years. The cattle are typically slaughtered when they are 3 years old.

The cattle are raised by a breeder until they are around 10 months-old from where they are bought by fattening farmers who keep them in pens and feed them a fiber-based diet which is made from rice, wheat, and hay to increase the muscle mass. The quality of the Wagyu cattle only increases over time because it takes up to 10-12 generations of cattle to achieve the desired levels of marbling and muscle-fat incorporation.

The marbling of the beef, with its high mono-saturated fat content, makes the meat juicy, tender and flavorful. The high mono-saturated fats in the beef make the beef suitable to be included in low-calorie diets. Various other useful substances such as omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are found in this beef.

The most expensive steak from the world comes from Wagyu beef called the olive Wagyu. This is one of the rarest steaks available. You can understand this from the fact that only 2,200 cows, that were bred with the olive feed, were slaughtered in 2018. A single steak can cost from $120 to over $300 in the U.S.

Hanwoo Beef

Hanwoo beef is also one of the rarest and expensive meats in the world. Unlike Japan, South Korea does not export Hanwoo beef to other countries due to its high demand in the home country. Hong Kong is the only country that has received approval to serve this beef. The demand for Hanwoo beef is very high but its supply is limited, making it one of the most desirable meats in the world.  One of the reasons for its lack of availability is when South Korea’s cattle were struck with the foot and mouth disease (FMD) in 2000. However, it has been two decades since then so the new Hanwoo cattle might be considered to be exported.

The taste of Hanwoo is similar to that of Wagyu, only it is slightly beefier. This is because the Japanese Wagyu is actually the off-springs of Hanwoo cattle. Hanwoo beef is well-known and desired for its highly marbled texture and the rich and fresh taste. Hanwoo breed is very special because the consistency in their marbling structure can only be achieved through raising five to ten generations of cattle which typically takes around 15-30 years. The meat consummation of Hanwoo cattle was very limited in its early stages of breeding.

Hanwoo cattle have a high-level of IMF and have thin fiber muscles and few connective tissues. The Hanwoo beef is tender, rich in flavor and texture. The meat contains various helpful substances such as oleic acids and unsaturated fatty acids which make its cholesterol content very low. Hanwoo beef has many health benefits as it is raised with a healthy feed. The Korean government pays special attention to its Cattle industry. Each animal is registered in the system as they are assigned individual electronic IDs.

Final Thoughts

Ido Fishman is a food and culinary expert and has immaculate taste and knowledge about everything related to food from around the world. You will find your mouth watering by just reading the descriptions of these meats and the tenderness and flavor they contain. Wagyu beef is a Japanese product while Hanwoo beef is a product of South Korea.

So now you know what exactly are Wagyu beef and Hanwoo beef and what wins them the title of the most expensive and wanted meats in the world.

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