The American Wagyu Association’s annual conference in September 2023, held at the JW Marriott hotel in San Antonio, Texas, was a significant event gathering over 500 attendees. The three-day conference covered diverse topics led by industry experts. Key themes included insights into consumer perspectives on beef, beef quality in Wagyu, regenerative agriculture, the significance of data from birth to carcass, and unveiling the value of Wagyu beef. Notably, the COO of Wagyu South Africa, Ms Elandri de Bruyn, contributed to a panel discussion regarding the importance of establishing a certification program, an effort named “Process Verified Wagyu Beef,” aligning with USDA systems.
The South African Certified Wagyu Beef program was acknowledged as a global leader, indicating the value of a certification system. Data accuracy and submission in the proper format to the American Wagyu Association were emphasized throughout the conference. Additionally, the event featured a concurrent trade show involving various industry stakeholders, including producers, feed companies, processors, and technology firms. The World Wagyu Council (WWC) had a booth, allowing discussions on its goals, achievements, and advantages, notably led by South Africa as the WWC secretariat. The conference revealed that the average American herd size is around 30 head of cattle, due to the presence of many new producers in the cattle farming industry. The event hosted a genetic sale and a Wagyu tasting competition. The overarching message was centred on effective marketing strategies for Wagyu beef and ensuring high-quality production aligned with the targeted market. Furthermore, the conference explored the early days of establishing Wagyu in America, shedding light on the initial exports from Japan and the processes involved, which were of significant interest and historical value.
Overall, the conference acted as a platform for knowledge sharing, networking, and aligning strategies to enhance the Wagyu beef industry, emphasizing quality production, proper marketing, and the value of accurate data collection and the undeniable value of having a certification program.