In February, an unidentified livestock farmer in Tokushima Prefecture told police that he sold several million sperm and eggs for the highly-valued Wagyu beef cattle to a stranger, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
Soon after, Chinese authorities apprehended a Japanese man carrying the wagyu sperm and eggs in straw-like containers in July last year and prevented him from entering the country. The Japanese man told police that he was asked by an acquaintance to carry the sperm and eggs into the country. However, police believe that the smuggler is a different individual than the one who bought the sperm and eggs from the Tokushima farmer.
Both the farmer and smuggler involved in the incident did not follow correct procedures to sell cattle sperm and eggs and to export them, authorities reported.
In December 2018, a man was caught by Chinese customs officers in Shanghai, China, carrying a container with hundreds of fertilized eggs taken from Wagyu beef cows, according to Japanese wire agency Jiji Press.
According to Japan's agricultural ministry, some plant varieties developed by Japanese farmers, including strawberries and muscatel grapes, have been smuggled to other countries.
Wagyu is one of the four specialized breeds of Japanese beef cattle. Demand for wagyu beef is on the rise, especially in Asian countries like Taiwan, which purchases around one-fifth of Japanese beef exports every year, Vice reported. The meat, rich in omega 3, is often called the "Rolls-Royce of beef" and can cost as much as $283 per kilogram in foreign markets.