Understanding Wagyu Grades: Compare 5+ Levels of Quality Meat

Wagyu Beef’s quality varies by grade, with A5 being the highest, boasting exceptional marbling, color, and yield, while C1 ranks lowest with less marbling and darker coloring.

grades of wagyu Understanding Wagyu Grades: Compare 5+ Levels of Quality Meat

Renowned worldwide for its succulent flavor, Wagyu Beef comes from Japanese Wagyu Cattle raised by expert ranchers and farmers. Unbelievably tender, well-marbled, and delicious, this is the best beef you can find. There are four types considered to be Wagyu:

  • Kobe Beef
  • Matsusaka
  • Yonezewa
  • Omi

So what makes Wagyu so unique? More monounsaturated fats than other types of beef means it retains flavor better because of its lower fat-melting point. Besides the variety of Wagyu, there are different grades, represented by letters and numbers. Because Wagyu is one of the most exquisite beef selections on the market, it is graded meticulously by the Japanese Meat Grading Association

For Japanese black beef loin steak

Here we will discuss the two grading systems used to grade Wagyu beef and how they differ. Read on to find out how to choose the very best Wagyu!

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Letter Grade System

Wagyu is graded on a letter system from A to C. A is the best and is considered premium Wagyu. B is standard, and C is the worst of the best. But this is Wagyu we’re talking about, so C is still pretty incredible! 

The letter grade of Wagyu is determined by the yield which refers to how much meat comes from the Cattle.

So, let’s start with the A grading system:

  • Grade A: Beyond premium meat that is the most difficult to produce, and thus expensive and hard to find. A grade of beef must have a yield of 72% or higher. That means that 72% of the harvest is edible beef. 
  • Grade B: This is standard Wagyu. But remember Wagyu far exceeds all other meat grades, so this is still pretty excellent. Wagyu gets a B when an average amount of meat comes from the animal; the yield is less than 72% but higher than 69%. 
  • Grade C: Considered the ‘worst’ grade of Wagyu on the market, yield from the animal is less than 69%, lower than the standard yield rate. C-grade Wagyu will be the most inexpensive to purchase.

Number Grade System

Wagyu beef steak and condiments

Wagyu ratings include a number grading system that ranges from 1 to 5. These numbers represent the Beef Marbling Score or BMS, firmness/fat content known as BFS, and the BCS, which scores the color of the beef. In the Wagyu grading system, five is the best and one is lower quality. These numbers combine with the letter grading system to indicate the quality of each cut of beef. For example:


Considered the cream of the crop and the best Wagyu beef you can buy. A5 has the highest yield (indicated by the letter A), the most marbling (BMS), the best coloring (BCS), and the lightest color of fat (BFS).


Refers to a standard/average yield. B3 indicates that the beef has some marbling, not the best, but definitely not the worst. The color of this grade is okay, it falls in the middle of the scale, while the fat content color is not light enough to be considered the highest quality- it is average.


This grade of Wagyu is considered the worst, though with Wagyu you really can’t go wrong. C indicates the yield was lower than average, while the number one means that the beef has little to no marbling, is poor in color, with a darker fat content, giving it a lower BFS score.

What are the 4 types of Wagyu?

The four types of Wagyu are Kobe (the most well-known), Omi, Matsusaka, and Yonezawa. Wagyu comes from Japanese black breed heifers raised with care on a 100% grass-fed diet.

What are the levels of Wagyu?

Graded using letters A, B, and C; and numbers 1-5, you can find Wagyu with grades A1-A5, B1-B5, and C1-C5. 

Which is better, A4 or A5 Wagyu?

The higher the number, the better the beef. While A4 is a quality cut of beef, it has fewer perfections than Wagyu A5 beef. So, A5 would be better than A4 Wagyu.

What is A9 Wagyu?

While the standard for rating the marbling of Wagyu Beef is to use numbers 1-5, some rating systems get more in-depth to the specific amount of beef marbling.

The marbling scale goes from one to twelve. The lower the number, the worse the marbling in the beef. An 8-12 is required to get a perfect marbling score. So a9 means the meat has the highest yield (indicated by the a) and the best marbling (indicated by the 9).

What is the highest grade of Wagyu Beef?

A5 is the highest grade of Wagyu Beef. It has the best coloring, the highest yield, the lightest fat color, and the most marbling within the beef. A is the highest letter grade Wagyu can get, while 5 is the highest number grade.

What is the lowest grade of Wagyu Beef?

C 1 is the lowest grade of Wagyu Beef. The coloring is the darkest, the yield from the animal was less than standard, the fat color is the darkest and least glossy, and it has little to no marbling. C is the lowest letter grade Wagyu can get, and 1 is the lowest number grade.

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