Famous in Japan as a hangover cure, Ume – Japanese plums – are now being fed to prime cattle to produce what is claimed to be a less fatty beef.

Produced in the Kansai region, Osaka Ume Beef is aimed at rivalling the nation’s more famous beef brands Kobe and Matsusaka Beef and is the brainchild of a Ume wine producer who was looking at ways of using up plum pulp left over after wine making.

Prime cattle have to be fed at least one kilogram of the distinctly sour plums to qualify as Osaka Ume Beef, said a spokesman. Claims that the feeding method produces leaner beef have sparked consumer interest particularly among young women, so much so that the association that produces the beef now intends to increase the initial experiment with 20 heads of cattle to 1000.

For hundreds of years Japanese have relied on its native plums, pickled and otherwise, as a cure all for everything from headaches to heart disease.