'Olive Beef' Looks Set to Land on American Plates

Sanuki Wagyu Beef has been recognised as healthier than regular Wagyu Beef. The olive-fed cows produce meat which is higher in oleic acid, monounsaturated fats and omega-3s.

Mar. 6, 2017
By Julie Al-Zoubi

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Sanuki Wagyu Beef, also known as the Destination Steak, is pro­duced only in Japan from olive-fed cows. The dense, red mar­bling and dis­tinc­tive taste of Sanuki Wagyu, looks set to nudge reg­u­lar Wagyu Beef from at least some American steak lovers’ plates.

Japanese cat­tle breeder Masaki Ishii recently show­cased his dis­tinc­tively mar­bled beef at indus­try events in the US to secure a dis­trib­u­tor.

Sanuki Wagyu Beef has been rec­og­nized as health­ier than reg­u­lar Wagyu Beef. The olive-fed cows pro­duce meat which is higher in oleic acid, monoun­sat­u­rated fats, and omega‑3 fatty acids.

Ishii hails from Japan’s cow-shaped island, Shodoshima, where cat­tle breed­ing dates back over 1,000 years. Olive trees were first planted on Shodoshima in 1908. Today, the island pro­duces 99 per­cent of Japan’s olive oil.

In 2010 Ishii dis­cov­ered that olive fruit, left over after olive oil press­ing, was dis­carded as indus­trial waste. He hit upon the idea of com­bin­ing the island’s two main indus­tries by turn­ing the wasted olive skins into a nutri­tious sup­ple­ment for cat­tle. Ishii’s brain­wave resulted in recy­cling-based agri­cul­ture on Shodoshima. It also met the Japanese ethos of Mottainai” — to waste noth­ing.


Chef Masayuki Okuda

Leftover olives became nutri­tious cat­tle feed and then cat­tle pro­duced manure which sus­tained the islands’ olive trees. Ishii’s envi­ron­men­tally friendly farm­ing method attracted the atten­tion of food indus­try experts. They flocked to Shodoshima to see for them­selves Ishii’s trans­for­ma­tion of cat­tle breed­ing. The olive-based cat­tle sup­ple­ment quickly became pop­u­lar on the island, where 80 cat­tle herds now enjoy diets sup­ple­mented by olive fruit.

Initially, Ishii’s cows were not tempted by the bit­ter olives. It took Ishii three years to come up with a for­mula that his bovines would devour. Ishii even­tu­ally dis­cov­ered that dry­ing and roast­ing the olive skins caramelized the fruit and removed the bit­ter taste.

It became appar­ent that the olive-fed cows were health­ier and pro­duced a higher cal­iber of beef. Sanuki Wagyu had a rich but­tery taste and a more supe­rior mar­bled tex­ture than Wagyu Beef. Sanuki Wagyu became the favorite steak of Japanese food­ies and fea­tured highly on the menus of Japan’s top restau­rants.

Masayuki Okudu, the owner of Hiroshima’s Miyajima Bocca Al- Ché Cciano Italian restau­rant, hailed Sanuki Wagyu as a game-changer due to its unique and tasty tex­ture. Okudu vis­ited Ishii’s Shodoshima ranch where he inspected the olive-fed cat­tle and scru­ti­nized the sup­ple­ment, which he described as fra­grant and smelling like caramel.

Sanuki Wagyu is not yet avail­able in the US, although Wagyu Beef (which sim­ply means Japanese cow) is pro­duced there. American-pro­duced Wagyu Beef is gen­er­ally a cross between Japanese breeds and the Angus.

Global heads feasted on Wagyu Beef at Davos 2017. It also became the trendi­est beef in the UAE, where con­sumers coughed up a whop­ping $60 for a Wagyu burger.

American beef con­nois­seurs will have to wait a while longer, or travel to Japan, for a Sanuki Wagyu steak.

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