Mishima Reserve: Making a Name for Themselves

Published on Wed, 11/30/2022 - 8:43am

Mishima Reserve: Making a Name for Themselves.

 By Maura Keller.

Walk into any fine dining restaurant dotting the U.S. and you’re bound to see one of consumers’ favorite beef selections on the menu: wagyu beef. Providing an exceptional quality of flavor and tenderness that consumers have come to love, the popularity of wagyu beef has grown exponentially thanks to the concerted efforts of Mishima Reserve American Wagyu Beef.

Originally founded in 2012 and then purchased by Seattle restauranteur and entrepreneur Kurt Dammeier in 2014, Mishima Reserve has captured the attention of both the beef and hospitality industries – thanks in part of Dammeier’s vision to provide high-quality and holistically produced food products to the end consumer. Quite simply: The mission of the Mishima Reserve brand is to create an integrated supply chain of F1 Wagyu cross cattle resulting in an elevated beef product for the end consumer.

“Since 2014, Mishima Reserve beef sales have grown substantially. Beef sales in that time have grown over 1000% and the distribution of the product has changed as well,” says Jenny Tweedy, Vice President of Cattle Operations at Mishima Reserve. In fact, more and more consumers are buying Wagyu beef at their favorite eatery, retail outlet or having it delivered directly to their home, where they prepare the beef themselves.

As Tweedy explains, pre-pandemic almost all of Mishima Reserve’s product was sold into food service accounts on the coastlines and in Las Vegas, but since the pandemic, the company’s sales have a more even distribution between food service and retail. In fact, Wagyu beef sales stayed strong during the pandemic and opened new opportunities to the brand to market the product to consumers at home.

“Demand for the product is driven by the consumer and over the past several years, the consumer has indicated that high-quality beef is continuing to be desired in the restaurants and at home,” she says.

At Its Core
Essentially, Mishima Reserve produces full blood Wagyu bulls to sell to commercial cattlemen and then buys back those calves at a premium over market prices.

“Those calves are 45 to 60 days weaned, double vaccinated, and age- and source-verified by the contracted delivery date. We currently have over 15,000 head on feed between Montana, Kansas, Texas, and California,” Tweedy says. “It is a natural program, so no animals are fed antibiotics, hormones, or animal by-products. The feeder cattle will be fed between 350 and 500 days and will be around 24 months of age at harvest. Cattle are typically around 1,500 pounds live when they go to harvest.”

Mishima Reserve currently works with over 70 ranching partners in the United States to produce F1 Wagyu cross calves. The company also sells partnering production ranches Wagyu genetics to use to breed their females, and then offers a buy back contract for those calves at the time of breeding. Calves are contracted to be procured by Mishima Reserve at a negotiated premium over the local market.  

“The ideal partner in production for Mishima Reserve is a commercial cattleman that has a uniform set of angus or angus cross females and prioritizes management practices that make the transition from ranch to feed yard less stressful on the calf,” Tweedy says. Calves entering the Mishima Reserve program will not be fed antibiotics, ionophores or growth-promoting hormones and they will be double vaccinated for respiratory and clostridial diseases and then weaned for 45 to 60 days prior to shipping to the feed yard. All cattle are age- and source-verified prior to arrival at the feed yard, so that the beef product is eligible for export as well. For reference, on a weekly basis Mishima Reserve harvests over 300 head and over 95% of those cattle grade prime and above.

So why is breeding to Wagyu becoming more popular among today’s commercial cattlemen?

For the commercial cattlemen, marketing your cattle under the Mishima Reserve program increases your opportunity for profitability. Contracting your calves back to Mishima Reserve gives the cattlemen the opportunity to guarantee a premium over market prices.

In addition, the breed characteristics simply can’t be beat. The Wagyu cross calves have low birth weights and the majority of Mishima Reserve’s network of producers cover their heifers with Wagyu bulls to add a premium to a calf that they already desired to have a low birth weight. And because the average birth weight of a Wagyu angus calf is 65 pounds, the ease of calving out the first calf increases her opportunity for breed back and longevity in production. The breed also has been proven very applicable at the ranch level and exhibited many fertility benefits when incorporating Wagyu into a cow/calf production system. Wagyu bulls are also known for their impeccable semen quality and fertility.

“At Mishima Reserve we give the producer transparency in the transaction and allow a relationship with your buyer,” Tweedy says. “We also give access to information on the performance of their cattle. All cattle are EIDed and performance data is tied back to the individual animal, marrying performance data back to the production ranch. Managing that extra layer of information allows us to provide performance data back to the producer so they are aware of how their cattle are performing both in the feed yard and on the rail.”

Impact on Consumers
Wagyu cattle exhibit the genetic propensity to deposit intramuscular fat and the fat composition of the intramuscular fat is unique to the breed, resulting in an incredible flavor upon consumption. However, the Wagyu genetics are not the sole contributor to the deposition of marbling. Cattle are on a carefully calculated feeding regime over the 500 days to encourage fame size until animals are 850 pounds, then cattle will be on a finish ration for around 350 days with moderate energy levels so that energy levels and days on feed encourage the deposition of intramuscular fat.

From the consumer’s perspective, the increase in intramuscular fat gives an increased eating experience that is contributed to from the abundance of marbling but also the fat composition.

“The fat composition of the intramuscular fat of Wagyu is higher in unsaturated fats and lower in saturated fats, with a similar fat composition to olive oil or salmon,” Tweedy says. “We also highlight to our consumers that we work directly with cattle producers. The consumer is more inclined to support brands that source directly from the ranch and have control over their supply chain.

With the increased transparency in our business practices, it gains acceptance amongst the end consumers.”

On the Horizon
While Mishima Reserve recognizes its recent significant growth has helped the company earn a solid reputation throughout the industry – among consumers, food retailers, and commercial cattlemen – their work is far from over. As Tweedy explains, with the success of the program to date, Mishima Reserve plans to continue to scale its luxury brand – growing in both quality and quantity – by doubling our production in the next three years.

“And need to add additional production ranches. We recognize that to produce the best American Wagyu product to the consumer that we must control our inputs,” Tweedy says. “Therefore, we have developed an internal supply of Wagyu seedstock available for purchase to our calf producers. This seedstock has been genetically selected for calving ease yet still promotes efficiency in the feed yard as well as carcass merit. We are constantly looking for opportunities to optimize our production practices and increase sustainability as a production entity and business.”

For more information please reach out through their website at mishimareserve.com/production or visit them at NCBA booth 236.