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Worshipping the golden calf — wagyu style

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  • The wagyu beef market is flooded with fakes, but prices for the genuine article can reach $1,760 per pound.

Pure wagyu — the holy grail for some in the beef industry — does exist; and it drives a raging suppy-and-demand market. (For example, Less than 30 wagyu were processed in Germany last year.)

As Japan asserts, the international wagyu market is filled with counterfeits, but the Japanese home market was rocked in June by bombshell allegations. From the Wall Street Journal: “… three former managers of a farm that offered investors a ‘wagyu beef ownership system’ guaranteeing annual returns of up to 8 percent were arrested on suspicion of misleading consumers.”

The farm was selling phantom cows. When the wagyu ponzi scheme collapsed, investors were left holding an empty bag that should have contained $4.34 billion — a staggering amount of faith in the wagyu market. The case has been “dubbed the biggest consumer fraud incident in recent Japanese history.”

Adulteration and scandals aside, the German beef industry is hanging in and expects a long ride. In July, a small, 10-month old became the first wagyu ever sold at auction. When the gavel stopped pounding — the little wagyu sold for $13,000.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @CBennett71

 

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