Wagyu 101

What is A5 Wagyu? An In-Depth Explanation

By Nicholas Fiorentino

To many not familiar with Wagyu, understanding what A5 Wagyu beef is can be difficult. However, knowledge of the grading process of Wagyu can help ensure you find the best cut of A5 Wagyu beef possible and make the smartest purchase.

Here, we break down what A5 Wagyu beef is, and why it is assigned the letter and number A5.

What is A5 Wagyu?

Simply put, A5 Wagyu beef is a superior cut of Wagyu that displays certain factors inspectors look for. In Japan, the Japanese Meat Grading Association (JMGA) will take Wagyu beef carcasses and cut them between the sixth and seventh ribs to visually examine. Inspectors from the JMGA will examine the beef and assign it its grade.

A5 Japanese Wagyu beef grading is based on 2 important factors. “Yield” (which is represented by a letter ranging from A to C) and “Grade” (based on a number ranging from 1 to 5). The Yield represents the “A” and the Grade represents the number “5” in A5 Wagyu beef. 

The “A” in A5 Wagyu Beef

The “A” in A5 Wagyu beef is the highest Yield that can be assigned to a cut of Wagyu, with a Yield of 72% or higher. The Yield is simply the ratio of meat compared to the weight of the carcass. Grade B Wagyu will have a Yield of roughly 69% to 72%, with Grade C Wagyu beef encompassing all Wagyu beef with a Yield of less than 69%. 

Wagyu beef that has been given a Yield of “A” will be far superior to a cut of Wagyu given a Yield of “B” or “C”.

The “5” in A5 Wagyu Beef

The “5” in A5 Wagyu beef is the highest Grade that can be achieved. Grade encompasses multiple factors including the Beef Color Standard (BCS), Beef Marble Score (BMS), Beef Fat Standard (BFS) and overall firmness & texture.

Wagyu beef assigned a Grade 5 will typically have a Beef Marble Score (BMS) of 8-12, showcasing vast amounts of fat within each cut. Grade 5 Wagyu beef will also have exemplary color (Beef Color Standard) and Fat (Beef Fat Standard). Firmness and texture must also be superior in Wagyu beef given a grade of “5”.

The lower the Grade number assigned, the lower the quality of beef. For instance Grade 4 Wagyu beef will not display the same marbling or color given to Grade 5 Wagyu, which will directly impact the taste. 

Final Note

The grade of Wagyu beef you purchase will have a great impact on the taste, tenderness, and cost associated with each cut of beef. A5 Wagyu is highly revered for the rich fat deposits that give it its unique buttery taste.

If you are looking to give A5 Wagyu beef a try, it’s important to work with a butcher that understands what highly graded Wagyu beef is. The Meatery’s vast selection of Japanese A5 Wagyu beef is sure to impress the taste buds of any beef connoisseur, whether you’ve had Wagyu in the past or not. 

We work exclusively with worldwide producers of high-quality Japanese, Australian, and American Wagyu to ensure a memorable dining experience.  To view our hand-selected cuts, or to learn more about our diverse offerings, visit us online or in-person at our San Diego butchery.

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