Saturday, April 20, 2024

Gore beef plant to reopen

Neal Wallace
The beef was destined for the Japanese wagyu market.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

A beef processing plant is to reopen in Gore, giving southern dairy farmers and finishers a new beef breeding option as a Wagyu beef business pushes into Otago and Southland.

Trading as Black Origin Wagyu, NZ Wagyu is working with herd improvement company CRV to provide Wagyu semen and breeding guidance targeting Friesian cows to produce first cross offspring for the beef trade.

Christchurch-based NZ Wagyu declined to comment on the project, saying the business was in its early stages, but the Farmers Weekly has seen documentation outlining the proposal and had confirmation of the venture from multiple sources.

Earlier this month CRV signed an exclusive agreement with NZ Wagyu to provide semen straws.

Until now, farmers have purchased semen directly from NZ Wagyu.

Under the CRV arrangement, the purchase of Black Origin Wagyu semen includes an agreement for NZ Wagyu to buy the resulting Wagyu-cross calf for a fixed price agreed at the time of mating.

In a statement announcing the CRV agreement, NZ Wagyu director Arato Tsujino says demand for Wagyu beef is growing and it is working to guarantee supply.

“Contracted market demand for Black Origin’s Wagyu beef in Asia will grow fourfold over the next two years,” Tsujino said, adding that they need more cattle.

Black Wagyu is bred using Friesian-cross (F12+) cows and once calves reach their target weight, they are reared on grass and then finished on grain on one of NZ Wagyu’s three finishing farms.

Contracts with farmers will specify the types of cows on which the Wagyu semen can be used, along with the type of calf (colour, weight and health) that will be accepted for collection.

Farmers will have the option of either supplying calves, rearing calves to 100kg, growing the animal to 100-400kg or to 520kg. 

In the same announcement, CRV managing director James Smallwood says the desire by dairy farmers to reduce surplus bobby calves is driving increased interest in beef breeds from NZ dairy farmers.

“Demand from CRV customers for beef semen has increased 10% year-on-year for the last five years, with no sign of things slowing down,” Smallwood said.

NZ Wagyu has bought the former Gore abattoir from Blue Sky Meats, which is currently leased to a pet food business, through its plans to develop and process cattle all-year-round.

It is understood a beef finishing unit will be built alongside.

The beef will be marketed as Washu, meaning Wagyu-ish and is possible due to relationships between NZ Wagyu and the Japanese Beef Association and the Japanese Wagyu industry.

It is understood the venture has backing from a Japan-based investor.

Other markets are China, Middle East, Singapore and Southeast Asian countries.

“This is a big deal as Wagyu are culturally significant to the Japanese,” information supplied to farmers by NZ Wagyu states.

“Wagyu means Japanese Cattle. For example, even 100% Wagyu from Australia is marketed as ‘Australian Beef’.”

NZ Wagyu’s website states Black Origin Wagyu began in 2015 and combines “the origin of Japanese breeding genetics and 200-year-old techniques with NZ’s grass, grain, water and air”.

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