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Agriculture

Rare Hitachi wagyu to make Singapore debut, extending global reach

Premium beef for the masses? Whole-animal exports to help cut costs

Exports of Hitachi wagyu beef surged 45% during the year ended March 2019.   © Reuters

MITO, Japan -- A premium wagyu beef cultivated in farm country northeast of Tokyo will soon arrive in Singapore for the first time, with costs held down by using the full array of cuts of the animal.

Although it has less name recognition than other wagyu varieties, Ibaraki Prefecture's Hitachi brand receives top marks on a five-point quality scale and have been raised there longer than any other cattle.

Exports to Singapore will begin as early as this month. The beef started shipping to Vietnam in fiscal 2014, later expanding to Thailand and the U.S. as destinations.

Two heads of cattle will be transported to a slaughterhouse in Hyogo Prefecture. Mizutomi, a courier based in Okinawa, will transport the processed wagyu by air to Singapore.

Once in the city-state, the wagyu will be served at restaurants run by chef Teppei Yamashita.

Export of beef had always centered on expensive cuts, such as sirloin and loin. Parts such as chuck and shank were left behind, resulting in higher purchase costs. By using the full cow, the export costs will come down, the Ibaraki Hitachiwagyu Beef Promotion association says.

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