Wagyu beef is judged by two main criteria; the yield grade and the meat quality grade. The yield grade scale is A, B and C whereby A is the highest grade. The meat quality consists of four subcriteria; colour and shine of the meat, firmness and texture, colour and shine of the fat, as well as the marbling. The scale goes from 1 to 5 whereby 5 is the highest quality standard. The Beef Marbling Standard (BMS) independently rates the marbling and ranges between 1 – very scarce and 12 – very abundant.
There is a strong competition between the breeding prefectures, which label their beef according to the region‘s name. Important breeding regions are Miyazaki, Kobe, Ohmi and Kagoshima. Japanese Wagyu livestock outside Japan consists of 95% cross breeds and fails to achieve similar quality and taste.