Plant-based ‘Wagyu’ tak­ing it a step too far

Central and North Rural Weekly - - RURAL WEEKLY - ED GAN­NON The Weekly Times Edi­tor

THE no­tion of fake food has be­come ab­surd. Sorry, even more ab­surd.

We’ve got fake beef, fake milk, fake chicken and fake ba­con.

Yet none of those who brand them­selves with these names should be able to use the word beef, milk, chicken or ba­con. For they are none of those.

But, un­de­terred, the fake food in­dus­try is now seek­ing to take on spe­cific va­ri­eties of food to pig­gy­back off.

The Weekly Times this week re­veals that a joint ven­ture of two Aus­tralian com­pa­nies has de­vel­oped what they call plant­based Wagyu.

Yep. They are now say­ing their plant food is mim­ick­ing a spe­cific breed of cat­tle.

Wagyu is the Ja­pane­se­o­ri­gin breed of cat­tle whose trade­mark is the high de­gree of mar­bling, or fat, in its cuts of meat.

It has been the pre­serve of high-end restau­rants for the past decade, com­mand­ing $100 or more for a steak.

In re­cent years, the Wagyu name has ap­peared fur­ther down the food chain on fast­food menus.

But de­spite this ap­par­ent down-mar­ket move, the Wagyu name still has the aura as the prince of beef.

And that, pre­sum­ably, is why this ven­ture has de­cided to ride on its coat-tails.

The plant-based ’Wagyu’ it has de­vel­oped has a soya bean base with a flavour de­vel­oped by a food flavour­ing com­pany. It is also claimed to be high in fi­bre.

The pic­ture of the cooked prod­uct gives it the dis­tinct ap­pear­ance of cooked, sea­soned chicken. Cer­tainly not like a cooked Wagyu steak, which vir­tu­ally sparkles due to the high lev­els of fat.

You couldn’t find two more con­trast­ing foods in ap­pear­ance.

I can’t com­ment on taste. The Aus­tralian Wagyu As­so­ci­a­tion had de­scribed the move to la­bel a plant-based food as its breed as “non­sen­si­cal”.

I would have ex­pected an even stronger re­sponse, just be­fore pick­ing up the phone to the lawyers.

I would be very cranky that an­other type of food is at­tempt­ing to cash in on hun­dreds of years of breed­ing, decades of pro­mo­tion, and care­ful cul­ti­va­tion of chefs and restau­rants as to the high value of Wagyu.

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