School launches premium beef line
By MATTHEW WEAVER
Washington State University has added a line of WSU Premium Beef to its signature Cougar Gold cheese and Ferdinand's ice cream.
The WSU Beef Center raises about 130 head of cattle for teaching, research and extension activities, said cattle operations manager Tom Cummings. Of those, 10 or 12 are finished for the new brand.
The cattle are grain-fed on a barley-based diet with no hormones and humanely treated.
"We felt we had a high-quality beef product and wanted to put a name with the product," Cummings said.
WSU Premium Beef includes the Angus and Wagyu breeds. Wagyu was originally from Japan and known for its tenderness due to marbling.
Marbling is responsible for tenderness, flavor and juiciness, Cummings said.
WSU has been involved with the Wagyu breed for years, Cummings said.
"Most of the carcasses turn out to be prime," he said. "The stuff you buy at the store isn't usually prime. We wanted to share this with the public and get a very high-quality product out to people."
According to WSU, Angus choice beef is comparable to high-end restaurants and roughly $5 a pound, and Wagyu is available at roughly $9 a pound.
The beef is available only on the WSU campus in Pullman as wholes, halves and quarters and boxed cuts.
As the premium beef brand evolves, Cummings said customers will be able to buy steaks or hamburgers and, eventually, pork.
Proceeds from sales return to the beef center, which is self-sustaining except for Cummings' salary.
Cummings said he was already beginning to get calls and emails regarding the beef, although he doesn't expect interest in the beef to reach the levels of WSU's popular specialty cheese, Cougar Gold.
"The cheese is really a pretty special product, but we're trying to make a name for the beef out here, too," he said. "It's going to grow, but we may have a little learning curve as it grows."
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