It's the Olympic Games you've never heard of. Since 1966, Japan's beef industry has held a nationwide competition every five years to crown the best beef in the country. It's called Zenkoku Wagyu Noryku Kyoshin-kai (全国和牛能力共進会) but it's known also as "The Wagyu Olympics."
There are 11 prize categories, one of the more interesting of which measures the quality of the fats (looking for things like the health-promoting and umami-generating oleic acid). There's also an overall winner, based on the average of scores across the categories.
This year’s event was held in September in Miyagi Prefecture and brought together over 400,000 people and scores of artisanal and craft beef producers from 39 prefectures.
The overall winner this year? Kagoshima!
Kagoshima is where Crowd Cow sources our A5 Wagyu and we're proud because this year, Kagoshima beef took the top prize based on overall contest scores (総合得点による「団体賞」は、鹿児島県が１位). You could say that Kagoshima's A5 Wagyu is the best beef in Japanese beef right now!
Crowd Cow directly sourcing A5 Wagyu from Kagoshima in July of 2017
The best-tasting Wagyu in Japan
One award category to pay attention to (because it points towards superior taste and health properties) is the Fat Quality Award (脂肪の質賞, awarded to the beef with the highest content of monounsaturated fatty acids (the good kind) including oleic acid, which is an indicator of awesome taste.
This year, Olive Wagyu, which originated on Shodoshima island raised by breeder Seishin Shioda took the top prize. Its fat content was made of 65.2% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), "centering on oleic acid." That's important because the higher the proportion of MUFAs in the fat, the more you get the "melt-in-your-mouth" sensation.
Crowd Cow has been visiting Kagawa to meet with Olive-fed Beef producers quite a bit recently. Please stay tuned!
See also: how does beef achieve "A5" status.
Crowd Cow has paid visits to Kagawa-area producers including Masaki Ishii (Olive Wagyu's inventor and originator) twice this year
- 和牛日本一に輝く「鹿児島黒牛」 - Kagoshima Kuroge Washu Beef shines as the best in Japan
- 全国和牛能力共進会肉牛の部でオリーブ牛が特別賞「脂肪の質賞」を受賞しました！ - Olive-fed beef won the "Fat Quality Award"
- 第11回全国和牛能力共進会 和牛の祭典2017inみやぎ - 11th National Wagyu Beef Joint Competition Association Wagyu Festival 2017
- 第10回全国和牛能力共進会について - Kobe Beef won best fat quality at the last Wagyu Olympics in 2012