Hyogo Prefecture sets on improving the scent of Tajima beef
HYOGO, Oct. 23 – The Hyogo Prefectural Government, which is working to further enhance the quality of Tajima wagyu beef produced in the prefecture, has set on improving the scent of the meat.
The Hyogo government plans to establish a technology within 10 years to assess the scent of the meat of each cow using genetic data and utilize it for wagyu beef improvement.
The prefectural government has already identified components related to aroma and the ones that are found largely in Tajima beef.
It hopes scents will become a new indicator for wagyu beef improvement in addition to the quality of fat which many wagyu beef producing regions are focusing on in recent years to produce better beef.
Wagyu beef has a distinct fragrance, called “wagyu-ko” in Japanese, that is not found in imported beef.
The unique, sweet and fatty aroma reminiscent of peaches or coconuts comes when wagyu beef is cooked.
Aroma is said to be one of the important contributors to the rich taste of wagyu beef, but little research had been done on this area due to the difficulty of extracting and measuring scent components.
Hyogo Prefecture has conducted an all-encompassing analysis of aroma components contained in wagyu beef and has so far identified 20 components that are believed to greatly affect the scent of meat.
These components are mainly in the group of lactones and six of them are contained in greater amounts in Tajima beef compared with beef from outside the prefecture.
From now on, Hyogo will look into how these components influence beef flavor and where the genes are that determines the amount of each component in beef.
The ultimate goal is to make it possible within a decade to evaluate the scent of meat by genomic breeding value evaluation, a method of predicting growth and meat quality based on genetic information.
The prefecture hopes to utilize the technology in selection of bulls.
In Japan, improvement of beef quality has been done by increasing the fat content, using the beef marbling scale as an indicator.
In recent years, improvements are made to raise the quality of fat, using as a new indicator the content percentage in fat of monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) which is believed to be associated with wagyu beef flavor and how it melts in the mouth.
A new category to evaluate the quality of fat was created in the 12th Japanese Wagyu Branded Beef Competition held in October in Kagoshima Prefecture.
Eiji Iwamoto, head of the livestock division of the Hyogo Prefectural Technology Center for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ livestock technology center, said, “We hope to make (the scent) the new indicator for wagyu beef improvement to come next to the quality of fat. We want to increase the advantage of Tajima beef which has particularly strong wagyu-ko.”