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Wagyu around the World - China

'Wagyu Bio-Tech' was established in May 2008 for the breeding, production of beef and the sale of semen, Map of Chinaembryos and breeding animals. The key site is in Beijing Huairou District. Breeding takes place at another two properties at Chiping and at Laixi in Shandong District.

Wagyu Bio-Tech became members of the Australian Wagyu Association in 2011. This enabled the registration of progeny which were introduced from Australia as frozen embryos through Global Reproduction Services.

Rapid growth of numbers has taken place since 2012. The following year there were 1,200 pure Wagyu (of which 219 are registered with the Australian Wagyu Association as Fullbloods). 200 pure Wagyu were slaughtered. 200,000 doses of semen and 8,000 embryos were produced.

On 14th September 2013 collaboration was officially launched between Wagyu Bio-Tech and Beijing Animal Husbandry for technology and development in the "high quality beef" industry.Feeding hay to Wagyu in feedlot at Wagyu Bio-Tech in China

Sven Fu offers semen, embryos and beef through 'Australia Wagyu' and has 99 registered Wagyu in Australia and facilities in Hong Kong.

Nutrition for Wagyu production

The Wagyu breeds of cattle have unique qualities that are attributed to origins from the Fourth Eurochs and they were isolated for almost the first two thousand years after arriving in Japan. This has enabled Wagyu to have retained key differences from other breeds while they are classified to be on the extreme within the Bos taurus pool.Wagyu beef from China

Most Wagyu producers that introduced Wagyu cattle onto their cattle properties around the world had prior experience with beef production. Outside Japan, nutrition recommendations for Wagyu generally follow common practices that are applied within each country and there is a strong bias towards the principles that have evolved for the dairy industry. Most of the advances that have been made with genetics in Japan - such as the single step genomic predicted breeding values - have been adopted by progressive bodies outside Japan (such as Australian Breedplan). However, the philosophy that applies to fattening Wagyu in Japan has been more elusive to understand.

Establishment of Wagyu International principles for Wagyu nutrition

Initially research data over 20 years from Japan was analysed and some preliminary principles were adopted by Wagyu International. Subsequently the translation of the Japanese Beef Feed Standard 2008 provided additional information. Net Energy was incorporated into the tables that I generated from the Japanese requirements for Wagyu breeds.

The Japanese cattle industry requires a large component of feed that is imported and ongoing increases in production costs for beef have increased subsidies by prefecture for fattening (牛マルキン). In March 2015 the policy of Modernizing Dairy and Beef Cattle Production was announced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Changes are necessary to strengthen competitiveness of beef cattle production by shortening the fattening period. LIAJ estimated that shortening the fattening period by each 1 month will reduce expenses by about 5%. I read in one survey that the average age of processing in 2015 had decreased to 28.5 months. However, it has been acknowledged that shortening the fattening period will have an impact on carcass weight and meat quality.

In order to minimise the impact on quality by the mandate to reduce age as implemented in 2015, research on feeding has been carried out extensively throughout Japan. The numerous results have been reviewed by Wagyu International and during collaborations with clients in several countries with grass and grain finishing the latest findings are put to test

Fundamentally, a slow continous gain in weight is required to develop the tissues and frame for a 350 to 450 kg carcass. Faster and early growth costs less but does not enhance eating quality or carcass weight.

The primary energy sources for beef cattle are starch and cellulose. They are fermented by microorganisms in Pathways during carbohydrate fermentation in the rumenthe rumen to produce volatile fatty acids and gases. The major VFAs produced are acetate, propionate, and butyrate and the type of diet, microbial species present in the rumen, and ruminal pH are the major factors that influence the percentage of each VFA produced.

The loss of energy in heat and methane during the conversion of starch and cellulose to VFA makes the process of fermentation inefficient. When acetate is produced in the rumen there is a loss of one carbon as CO2which can be used to form methane. Butyrate is produced when two acetate molecules are combined so even though butyrate does not produce CO2 which can be converted into methane directly, the CO2 is produced when the acetate molecules were formed. Propionate is the only VFA that does not release an extra carbon that can be used for generation of methane. Because of these differences in carbon, the energy values for the VFA are approximately 109% for propionate, 78% for butyrate, and 62% for acetate. Therefore, increasing propionate within the rumen will decrease methane production and increase animal performance for beef production.

The Wagyu breed thrives on roughage and Japan was traditionally supplied at an age that exceeded 30 months. The balance of forages and grain that provided optimum performance and beef quality culminated in propionic acid fermentation during finishing. On the other hand, the dairy industry relies on butterfat production and this is favoured by acetic acid fermentation.

The acetate:propionate ratio is important but there is a negative trend between NDF and IMF%. Research data from fattening trials in Japan have been reviewed by Wagyu International from the last ten years and more recently the focus has changed. Promising developments are rolled out to Wagyu International clients. As always, the economics and end points are different in every enterprise. Determination of the desired eating quality and carcass size will enable Wagyu International to recommend the growth profile and feeding program that will be based on local resources and feed components.

Beef trade with China

China has become an important market for Australian beef. “While frozen grassfed still accounts for the majority of Australia’s overall beef exports to China, grainfed – particularly chilled – is the fastest growing category,” MLA said. “This reflects the long term premiumisation trend in China, as the growing population of affluent consumers upgrade their levels of consumption, which is occurring across many categories. Despite the COVID-19 impact, Australian exports of chilled grainfed to China this year were up 140pc, year-on-year". Australia was also China’s top imported grainfed beef supplier, with volume up 3pc for the year to May.

China’s tonnage of imported Wagyu reached about 20,800t, up from 12,100t in the 2018 year, and less than 8,000t back in 2017. For the 2020 year to the end of May, volume has already reached 10,800t, up another 25pc on the same period last year. Australia had 83% market share in the imported Wagyu trade in May 2020, followed by Uruguay with 7%, New Zealand with 5% and the US and ‘others’ with 2% each. Quality perceptions about Wagyu product from some other suppliers were not as good as Australia’s Mr Liu, beef market analyst Gerrard Liu from Meat International Group said.

MIG suggested current average price for imported Wagyu beef in China was around US$15/kg, but the choice of cuts entering the market plays a significant part in this.

Trimmings remain the dominant Wagyu item purchased by Chinese importers, used for traditional hot-pot cooking styles. Other popular items include point-end brisket, navel end brisket and chuck roll. Much less significant are more costly steak cuts. Demand for higher quality steak cuts like cube roll and striploin had tended to be stable, Mr Liu said, while items like shin-shank and shortrib were continuing to grow. For Wagyu steak cuts, the most popular items were marbling scores 4-5, which compared more than favourably with USDA Prime Grade Angus beef from the US.

Australia's richest woman Gina Rinehart is forging new ties with China, hot on the heels of the Gina Reinhart launches 2GR Wagyu brand for export to Chinafierce battle for the Kidman cattle empire which she purchased last year. She launched her Wagyu brand '2GR' at Warwick in south-east Queensland, with the first shipment of the frozen boxed beef loaded and ready for export to China in February 2017.

"The cattle are recorded for whole-of-life traceability using their DNA collected at birth and are grain fed on locally produced ingredients," she said.

"We hope that this shipment will be the first of many in the decades to come." For Mrs Rinehart's boxed beef brand, the 12-tonnes of frozen full-blood wagyu is bound for top-end restaurants in Shanghai and Beijing, where premium steaks can sell for up to $400.

Shanghai CRED, Mrs Rinehart's Kidman co-owner, has also been busy establishing supply lines into China — not for packaged beef, but for the emerging live cattle market. Australia's first live shipment to China left Portland in south-western Victoria under a new health protocol agreement between the two countries. It will deliver 1,200 head of black Angus to Shanghai CRED to distribute.

Volumes of Wagyu beef to China have been set back by the cancellation of licences for four abattoirs in Australia in April 2020 by China that supply 31% of the Australian volume to China.

Long delays are being reported in chilled and frozen food exports arriving in China, as Chinese authorities continue to rigorously test imported foodstuffs for COVID-19. Shipping companies have told Australian exporters that at the port of Yantian, a feeder port for Shanghai in Guandong Province, a US$1000 per container congestion surcharge has been added to imports, to account for the current delays.

Australian exporters have been told cargo clearance times in some Chinese ports have extended from three or four days to ten or eleven, as a result of COVID testing pressure.

China has started testing a wide range of imported foodstuffs for traces of COVID-19. The dwindling pace of meat imports caused by the latest tough testing measures will provide further support for prices already impacted by a severe shortage of pork, as a result of the African Swine Fever outbreak last year, analysts said. China has now suspended imports from more than 20 overseas plants processing pork, beef and poultry since late-June, after workers were infected with the virus.

References

Australia Wagyu

Schwartz, Dominique, ABC News, 2017. Gina Rinehart launches wagyu brand bound for China's top restaurants. 7 February 2017.

Wagyu Bio-Tech (Beijing) Ltd

DISCLAIMER Wagyu International provides information that has been supplied by other parties and gives no warranty (express or implied) as to the data completeness, accuracy or fitness for a particular purpose.

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