British Wagyu momentum builds at 250-strong conference
250 people attended a two-day conference in and around Telford, Shropshire as momentum for British Wagyu beef continues to build.
Welcoming retailers, processors and a strong line-up of UK and international speakers as well as both current and prospective farmer partners, the event was staged by the East-Yorkshire family farming business, Warrendale Wagyu, who run a fully integrated Wagyu beef supply chain.
After a Wagyu-themed lunch provided by Dovecote Park’s New Product Development team, Day One comprised four conference sessions.
Setting the scene, Warrendale MD, Tom Richardson, went through their story so far before explaining where the business was going as Warrendale Wagyu moves towards 800 farmers producing up to 1,000 cattle per week.
Irene Breider & Neil Wharton from Genus then presented the results of the data sets they had collected for both maternal and terminal traits – these included calving surveys, bull proofs and carcase figures incorporating Meat Image Japan (MIJ) carcase camera technology.
Nick Rose, buying director for Aldi UK, then updated the audience on the exciting journey to date, shared their successes and accolades, before turning to how they will continue to grow and deliver Aldi’s long-term ambitions with Warrendale.
Session Two saw Matt McDonagh, CEO of the Australian Wagyu Association (AWA), bring delegates up-to-speed with Wagyu developments worldwide before exploring future opportunities for the UK to enhance the value of Wagyu. At its heart is the analysis of 14 key Wagyu production traits across 250,000 animals within a global evaluation.
Angela Tant from Red Tractor then explained the numbers behind the Red Tractor logo and why so many consumers recognise and trust this flagship brand of British food and farming.
In the third session, Wyndford Wagyu’s Commercial Director, Jess Edwards, gave delegates an insight into the growth of their 400-head Fullblood Wyndford herd which was being developed in pursuit of elite herd status with lasting connections in the Wagyu world.
A Q&A session rounded of the formal programme. This was chaired by BWA director, Chris Dickinson, with farmer and processor representatives comprising: Laurie Ibbotson (Commercial Director, Dovecote Park); Andrew Ward (Dairy – Littleton Farm, Dumfries & Galloway); Eddie Rixon (Grower – Lopemede Farm, Oxon) and Paul Metcalfe (Finisher – Gillingwood Hall, N Yorks).
Addressing the conference, BWA company secretary, Richard Saunders, said: “In the space of just a few short years, the British Wagyu industry has grown as we forge partnerships with some truly outstanding and pioneering organisations. Our future growth plans reflect the ambition of working with these world-leading partners to not only deliver a consistently great product to the consumer but also build trust, grow the British Wagyu brand and importantly earn a premium for everyone in the supply chain. Ultimately, it’s all about the product and this is what gives all of us here the confidence to invest in the bright future that is British Wagyu Beef.”