Farm Ireland

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Wexford farmer producing world's most expensive beef lands supermarket deal

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

An Irish beef farmer has just landed a deal to supply supermarket chain SuperValu with Wagyu beef - the most expensive beef in the world.

Originating in Japan and more recently bred in Australia, Wagyu beef is characterised by its intense marbling which leads to an extremely tender and juicy meat with a unique and distinctive flavour.

In recent years Wagyu has become a beef breed famous for its consistent high quality, featuring on the menus of some of the best restaurants in the world.

Now, Karl Strehlow, a cattle farmer from Murrintown, Co. Wexford will be supplying SuperValu with Irish Wagyu beef. He said the project has taken careful planning over two years and marks the latest milestone in his 10-year relationship with SuperValu.

“Our cattle are a mix of heifers and steers and between 50pc to 100pc Wagyu. These cattle have a unique history and are specially bred under conditions that produces beef of unrivalled quality.”

Strehlow, who also finishes 200 head of continental cattle, first discovered Wagyu beef while on holidays a number of years ago.

“I was struck by its stronger and more flavoursome taste I immediately became interested in producing it on my own farm.

“When I got back from the holiday I contacted a Wagyu wholesaler here in Ireland and I bought some to ensure the taste was consistent with what I got overseas and it didn’t disappoint.

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“We just took it from there really. I purchased a few weanlings from a producer on the west coast and we’re planning to produce more Wagyu stock in the coming years,” he said.

He outlined that initially he was trying to do is get closer to pure bred Wagyu as much as possible. However, he explained that he into trouble with milk.

Joking he said “Wagyu cattle are like Belgium Blues without the confirmation” and said he is now looking for ¾ breed stock that have a bit of milk in them.

Strehlow aims to finish the cattle at 24 months, with steak cuts matured for a minimum of 21 days.


The key difference between Wagyu cattle and his continental stock is that they need more meal for a longer period.

“This is what makes them significantly more expensive to produce and why Wagyu beef needs a higher retail price.

“Cattle are on 8kg since last October to produce the marbling in the muscle that Wagyu beef is known for,” he said.

Strehlow said the ration he feeds is similar to a bull rations at 50pc barley, 40pc maize and 10pc soya hulls.

He also highlighted the docile nature of the Wagyu cattle and how easy they are to handle compared to continental stock.


In terms cattle performance, he said the heaviest Wagyu killed out at 400kg this year and the average was at 350kg.

“Their grading was better than expected, he said, “when I saw them first I thought they would be all Os”.

“But they average R- which was very good,” he said.

Future for Wagyu

Strehlow, said he plans to increase in Wagyu numbers and sees great potential in the breed.

However, he also said the Irish consumer is not used to it yet and needs to be educated about the increased retail price.

Commenting on the announcement, Martin Kelleher, Managing Director, SuperValu, said, “We are excited to partner with Karl in Wexford to bring a 100pc Irish version of this globally acclaimed delicacy to consumers.”

A limited selection of Wagyu beef steaks, including fillet, rib eye and striploin, are available in SuperValu stores in Ballincollig, Skibbereen, Clonakilty and Wexford now. A wider range of Irish Wagyu beef burgers are available from selected SuperValu stores nationwide. The exclusive range will be available until July 2017.

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