What Is American Wagyu Beef?

The word “wagyu” in Japanese simply translates as “Japanese cow.” Japanese Wagyu beef comes from 100% pure-bred cattle in Japan, which have been illegal to export since 1997. Cows and steers imported to the U.S. before that date have been crossbred with traditional American breeds to create American Wagyu beef that combines a robust flavor with the buttery texture of Japanese Wagyu based in superior marbling — the very characteristic that edges our Gold grade beef over our Black grade beef. More on how beef marbling and grades overlap in a moment.

How Is Beef Graded Domestically and Internationally?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) separates domestic beef into five grades, based on qualities like juiciness and flavor, as well as carcass yield. These grades indicate highest to lowest quality:

  • Prime
  • Choice
  • Select

The Japanese Meat Grading Association (JMGA) assesses its beef on a scale of 1 to 12 that mostly appraises the amount of marbling, along with color, shape and size. Those scores are then translated into grades from 1 to 5:

  • Poor – Quality score of 1
  • Below Average – Quality score of 2
  • Average – Quality score of 3 or 4
  • Good – Quality score of 5 to 7

American Wagyu Beef: A Cut Above

All Snake River Farms American Wagyu beef exceeds the marbling in USDA Prime grade beef. To represent the superior marbling and overall quality of our beef, we developed our SRF Black and Gold Grades based on the internationally recognized BMS system.

  • SRF Black Grade American Wagyu Beef – These choices garner a BMS of 6 to 8 with significantly more marbling than USDA Prime graded beef. Expect SRF American Wagyu Black™ Grade brisket and other cuts to deliver rich, robust flavor and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.
  • SRF Gold Grade American Wagyu Beef – With a BMS of 9 or higher, these select cuts contain the highest level of marbling we sell. SRF Gold Grade steaks and other choices will exceed your expectations for flavor, juiciness and tenderness.