THE Aussie meat pie is going upmarket, with a tender new wagyu beef pastry number appearing in supermarkets.
Tempting the tastebuds of pie-lovers is a new tender, richer variety made from wagyu beef, which costs up to $1000 a kilo for the best cuts, the Daily Telegraph reports.
"Times are changing in the pie game," said Karl Fretwell from Sargents Pies.
"Ever since McDonald's jumped on board with their Angus burger, marketing the pie category has had to move with it."
Since then, pies made from angus beef, King Island beef and grain-fed beef have started appearing in New South Wales supermarket freezers.
Figures show Australians are the biggest meat pie eaters in the world, with 270 million consumed nationally per year.
Sydney-based Sargents Pies, which controls half of NSW's market in pies and manufactures in the western suburbs, is behind the new range. And so is the consumer, Mr Fretwell said.
"People are seeing different species of beef listed on menus and the butchers are selling all these different cuts of meat, so people are becoming a lot more aware of quality," Mr Fretwell said.
Tests show there is a difference in taste, too.
"There's no point making these products if you can't actually taste the difference," he said.
"Wagyu's a very expensive cut and the cows are purpose bred - they are different in flavour and quality, so the meat is marbled with fat and fat equals flavour.
Mr Fretwell said 19 out of 20 people on Sargents' testing panels preferred the wagyu pie against any other pies they sampled.
"That means 95 per cent of people preferred the flavour of the wagyu pie.
"They could actually taste the difference in the species."
The wagyu pies are about 50 per cent more expensive than a regular meat pie.
They are sold in twin packs for about $5.10 or $2.55 a pie compared with $1.75 for a regular meat pie.
But what does it all mean for the humble Australian meat pie which still makes up up for 80 per cent of all pies sold?
"It's still holding its own - believe it or not," Mr Fretwell said.
The true test though will be the sales figures at the end of "pie season" which is considered to be from the end of Easter to the football finals in October, when sales jump 15 per cent.
The wagyu beef pie appeared in Woolworths this month and will go into Coles and IGA supermarkets over the next six weeks.
Read more at the Daily Telegraph.