Aldi launches low-priced British Wagyu beef range

Aldi has launched a range of low-priced British Wagyu steaks in a bid to capture market share for high-end, stay-at-home meals.

In a direct challenge to Waitrose, Aldi said its prices for Wagyu sirloin, rump, ribeye and fillet steak would start at just £5.99, or £26.49/kg.

It said that was a fraction of the cost of Waitrose’s British Wagyu beef at £69.99/kg.

See also: 3 ways a beef farmer is adapting to improve profitability

In keeping with its pledge to source all of its fresh meat from British, Red Tractor-approved farms, it is using Warrendale Farms, based in Yorkshire, as its supplier.

Warrendale Farms founder and British Wagyu Society chairman Jim Bloom said the business produces more than 4,000 animals across its main site and 125 partner farms UK-wide.

Cattle are reared in high-welfare conditions for a minimum of 22 months to increase the level of marbling fat, he said.

Aldi UK’s managing director of buying Julie Ashfield said the move into Wagyu steaks been had spurred on by the success of its Wagyu burgers earlier in 2020.

“We remain committed to championing British quality and will continue to work closely with the Warrendale team in the future to provide our customers the very best products at the very best price.”

What is Wagyu beef and why have prices dropped?

Wagyu beef was originally a luxury meat produced only in Japan by Japanese Black, Brown, Polled or Shorthorn breeds.

The genetics conferred a soft fat with a low melting point, from an abnormally high proportion of monounsaturated fats and omega 3 and 6 oils.

The extremely high proportion of soft fat marbling meant diners experienced a melt-in-the-mouth sensation.

The eating experience, combined with tight supplies from the small gene pool and longer carcass hanging times, allowed producers to charge £500/kg.

But the high values attracted cattle breeders worldwide, who exploited advances in gene-mapping to isolate the Wagyu trait.

A wide range of crossbred cattle now have the Wagyu gene and the increased supply means prices have plummeted.