How does Japanese wagyu get graded?

Japanese Wagyu is renowned as one of the finest and most luxurious types of beef in the world. Its melt-in-your-mouth texture and rich, buttery flavor are often unforgettable, elevating it to the pinnacle of culinary experiences. And if you thought that was impressive, there's an even more premium version called A5 Wagyu Beef, which is considered the ultimate expression of Wagyu quality. Let's delve into this culinary wonder and discover what makes it so special.

1. What is Wagyu Beef Grading?

The Japanese Meat Grading Association carefully grades Japanese Wagyu Beef.

The wagyu grading system, which ranks the caliber of Japanese beef, employs a combination of letters and numbers. Additionally, any details on the types of wagyu being served have to be listed on the menu or accessible by speaking with the chef or waitress.

But don’t be rushed; you will learn about this in a more detailed way later. Now, it is better to understand “Why must Wagyu be Graded?” so that you can have a more proper assessment of the specialty of Wagyu.

Given that this beef is the best in the world, it is crucial to grade it properly in order to protect its integrity, transparency, and authenticity.

The Japanese government and businesses developed a grading system to assist consumers in understanding the quality of their products as a result of the great care given to producing high-quality products throughout Japan.

Customers can distinguish between different levels of taste, such as the flavor and tenderness of the beef, as well as the uniformity of flavor throughout the product, thanks to this grading system.

Yet, just take a little break here. Maybe we should reconfirm that, as you can see, this grade's fascinating aspect has nothing to do with taste. These rankings are mostly based on the quality of the meat because everyone has different flavor preferences that cannot be evaluated.

The wagyu grading system, which is unique to Japanese wagyu cattle, aids in securing the best-tasting steak. The goal of the Beef Carcass Grading Standard developed by the Japanese Meat Grading Association (JMGA) was to identify the cattle that can generate the finest marbling.

The BMS scale in the Japanese system ranges from 3 to 12, with 3 representing the bare minimum amount of marbling a steak should have and 12 representing a steak that is nearly white with marbling (BMS scores of 1 and 2 demonstrate virtually no marbling, so they are not even taken into consideration). For the best culinary experience, we aim to offer the highest-quality wagyu on the market.

The adoption of this grading system and the following decision to only accept grades higher than 3 inspired the global Wagyu beef industry to step up its game.

2. How to grade a Japanese Wagyu Beef

Because Japanese Wagyu steak is the most premium, top-quality beef in the world, it’s expected to consistently be of exceptional quality, flavor, and appearance.

As we previously mentioned, Wagyu Beef grades are regarded very seriously. No fewer than three independent, highly-trained assessors perform quality assessments, which are considered very serious. The aggregate scores of these assessors determine the final grade.

Samples of meat from the animal's sixth and seventh ribs are used to start the grading procedure. Further samples were obtained throughout the rest of the body to verify the uniform quality of the flesh.

Each cow is given a final score after the entire process is finished.

Yield and Grade, two incredibly distinct criteria, form the basis of grading. Wagyu is graded using a letter system (A–C) for yield and a numerical system (1–5) for quality.

  • Yield is defined as the proportion of meat to the actual carcass weight.
  • Grade refers to the overall Beef Marbling Score (BMS), Beef Color Standard (BCS), Beef Fat Standard (BFS), and Firmness & Texture.

Beef must be assessed as Grade A for yield and Grade 5 for BMS, BFS, BCS, firmness, and texture to be classified as A5 Japanese Wagyu. In other words, the most prized Japanese Wagyu beef in the world comes from cows that meet the prestigious A5 standard after undergoing a rigorous grading process.

And back to the grading...

Specifically, here’s what you need to know about these two factors contributing to wagyu grading.

2.1. Yield grade

The yield grade defines the meat's "cutability," or the amount of flesh that can be extracted from a particular area of the cow's carcass.

A letter grade is allocated to yield.

‘A’ - at least 72% of the animal can be harvested.

‘B’ - 69 to 71% of meat is harvestable.

‘C’ - less than 69% of the animal is usable.

2.2. Quality grade

Wagyu beef's quality is assessed based on four separate factors:

  • The marbling, which are tiny strips or flecks of fat;
  • The beef's color and brightness;
  • The firmness and texture;
  • The color, sheen, and quality of the fat.

Each cow receives a numerical rating from 1 to 5, with the credible score of 5 only being attained when the firmness and texture of the Wagyu beef are both "very good." Wagyu beef's silky texture is partly due to the remarkable amount of marbling that is often indicated by this grade.

The beef is assigned a number grade from 1-5 for each of the categories.

5: Excellent

4: Good

3: Average

2: Below average

1: Poor

  • The ratio of fat to lean meat

The marbling of wagyu is what makes it unique, so the first criterion that is evaluated is likely the most visible. The proportion of fat to lean meat is used to evaluate the beef. The more fat, the better.

BMS Grade Number:

5: Excellent 8 – 12

4: Good 5 – 7

3: Average 3 – 4

2: Below average 2

1: Poor 1

  • The color of the meat

The lean meat's color is the next consideration. The degree of darkness or light is used to evaluate something. With lighter and darker meats receiving lower marks, mid-tones are considered to be of higher quality.

Visual evaluation is used to evaluate the color and brightness of beef.

5: Excellent

4: Good

3: Average

2: Below average

1: Poor

  • The color and glossiness of the fat

Another crucial consideration when determining the grade is the color of the fat. Another factor is the glossiness of the fat, which gives an indication of its quality and how delicate it will be. Higher quality wagyu must have fat that melts in the mouth.

The fat should be as shiny and light as possible in this situation.

The beef fat color standards are used to evaluate the color, sheen, and quality of fat, while visual evaluation is used to evaluate the luster and quality of fat.

5: Excellent

4: Good

3: Average

2: Below average

1: Poor

  • The firmness of the meat

Lastly, the beef is assessed based on how firm it is. Since it is challenging to provide a visual representation, this one is more up to interpretation.

Firm but tender meat is ideal. This keeps it from crumbling while cooking while also keeping it from being overly chewy.

Using visual evaluation, the hardness and texture of beef are also evaluated.

5: Excellent

4: Good

3: Average

2: Below average

1: Poor

How to get the supreme ranking of A5?

To qualify for this rating, Japanese beef must score the same on all quality criteria.

For instance, beef that receives an A for yield, a 5 on three of the four quality measurements, but just a 4 on the fourth, can only receive an A4.

As a result, everything marked as "A5 wagyu" is assured to be of the highest caliber possible.

Thus, if we only ensure the perfect rating in each category, we will get the best possible wagyu grade, an A5.

Unsurprisingly, A5 grade Japanese Wagyu cattle are raised with exceptional care and attention, receiving only top-quality feed, such as corn and rice straw. Moreover, Wagyu farmers employ unique methods, like providing massages and maximizing space for the cattle to roam, further enhancing their well-being. These may well be the happiest cows on the planet. As a result, the delectable flavor, extraordinarily smooth texture, and superb fat balance are elevated, distinguishing A5 Wagyu as the finest Japanese beef with exceptional qualities.But shockingly, you know that there is even something that is better than A5 wagyu.

Even though A5 wagyu is supposed to be the top wagyu grade, there is one more area of assessment that distinguishes the best from the truly mind-blowing.

There is additional grading based on the Beef Marble Score for the marbling category (BMS). The BMS, which assigns a number grade of 1–12, enables the distinctive marbling of the beef to be rated to an even greater degree of accuracy.

This demonstrates how crucial marbling, or "Sashi" as it is known in Japanese, is to the flavor of wagyu and the overall enjoyment of eating premium Japanese beef.

The grading of wagyu marbling is as follows:

Grade BMS No.

5: Excellent 8 – 12

4: Good 5 – 7

3: Average 3 – 4

2: Below average 2

1: Poor 1

Therefore, once BMS is factored in, the actual highest grade of wagyu is A5-12, which is extremely rare.


3. Grading Of Wagyu Beef, Further Explained

3.1. Marble Scores 3 and 4

Wagyu beef is superior to regular grocery store beef, even at the lower end of the wagyu marbling scale, and even out performs other premium grade steak in terms of tenderness and flavor. Wagyu beef grades MS3 and MS4 have fine white fat streaks and marbling. If you're new to the world of Wagyu, this beef is the ideal place to start because of its tender texture and delectable flavor. It is also extremely affordable given the excellent quality of the dining experience.

3.2. Marble Scores 5 and 6

In comparison to lower marble scores, wagyu steaks are richer and more delicious, with noticeable fat webbing creating a creamier, butterier taste. However, there is no danger of a rich overload when you eat a lot of it.

3.3. Marble Scores 7 and 8

When Wagyu reaches this level, it's like having a magnificent, wandering stream of fat that is so rich and flavorful that it achieves a higher culinary plateau that was once only once accessible to monarchs. This type of beef will alter your concept of great because it is decadently rich and luscious to the point of being decadent, and it is so soft that a knife can cut through it like butter. Savor it in a little bit fewer quantities than usual because it is so rich and buttery.

3.4. Marble Score 9+

Welcome. You've just passed through meat heaven and are now in whatever is on the other side. Only about 1% of Wagyu cows have these marble scores, which are the rarest and hardest to locate. Wagyu MS9+ is a slice of serious meat that can only be dreamed of, with delicious, perfectly marbled meat that will amaze even the most fastidious of connoisseurs. In fact, it is so flavorful that you should only eat modest amounts of it—roughly the amount of a typical dish of steak. Purchase it to impress someone and demonstrate the genuine essence of luxury on the most momentous of occasions or as a gift.

4. Where can you find A5 beef?

I bet you are yearning to for a nice juicy A5 ribeye right, now?

Yet, it is a pity that you won’t find A5 beef in grocery stores because most of it goes straight to fancy restaurants and hotels. It’s also incredibly difficult to ship A5 meat without risking its quality. 

Luckily for you at we have done all the hard work for you! We've connected the best Wagyu farms in Japan, with our advanced shipping network to bring fresh Wagyu directly to your door within just a few days of ordering!



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