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Friday, 24 January, 2003, 17:22 GMT
Farmer breeds rare Japanese cows
Wagyu bull
Wagyu cattle are fed on beer and grain
Prized Japanese cattle are being bred on the Lleyn Peninsula in north Wales by a farmer hoping to profit from a specialised meat market.

David Wynne Finch is determined to produce the best meat in the world with his herd of Wagyu cattle - one of the most expensive breeds in the world.

Kobe beefburger
Kobe burgers sell at $41 each

Discerning customers in the United States are already paying $41 (26) for a hamburger made from the meat, which is also known as Kobe beef.

The increasingly popular burgers sold to Manhattan New Yorkers weigh in at 20-ounce a piece, almost twice the size of most restaurant steaks.

Mr Wynne Finch, who farms at Tudweiliog near Nefyn, decided to introduce the meat to the UK market when he returned to farming three years ago.

"We wanted to go for top-end product that was really tasty with which we could distinguish ourselves and set ourselves apart from the rest.

"I have always known a bit about cows from childhood and knew of this mythical beef in Japan, so we went in search of it," he said.

Special diet

But caring for the exotic breed calls for serious pampering not usually associated with traditional Welsh herds.

David Wynn Finch
Mr Wynne Finch: "It is a niche market"

They are raised on a special diet which includes grain and beer and are supposed to be routinely massaged with sake.

The idea is that this causes the fat to mingle with the meat, tenderizing the flesh and giving it its marbled look and distinctive flavour.

"It is a very rich, delicious and unctuous taste," said Mr Wynne Finch.

"It is several times more expensive than conventional beef, but we have been importing it now for a few years to establish a market."

Mr Wynne Finch foresees the meat will soon be on general sale in the UK, although he already sells to up-market restaurants and hotels in London and Amsterdam.

"We are going for the top end - the caviar end of the beef trade," he said.

"We know we can sell it - I am not talking huge quantities - it is a niche market."

Now with a small herd of his own, Mr Wynne Finch hopes that Llyn will be supplying the fine Japanese meat to some of Europe's most adventurous steakhouses.

See also:

25 Sep 02 | Wales
16 Nov 01 | Wales
11 Oct 02 | Wales
01 Feb 02 | Business
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