What is the Difference Between Yellow and White Fat Biltong?
Knowing the difference between yellow fat and white fat biltong.

Geelvet (yellow fat) biltong - why is it so delicious and why does everybody want it?

Well, I guess you have to be part of the 89% that love fatty biltong in order to appreciate geelvet biltong. However, if you’re part of the other 11%, you may want to keep reading because the type of fat found in biltong has a lot to do with the grade of beef that is used. 

It’s also worth noting that the type of beef used for yellow fat biltong makes amazingly rich, lean biltong as well. 

In summary, yellow fat biltong comes from grass-fed cattle, while white fat is grain-fed. But there is more to it than just the diet.

The Difference Between Yellow Fat and White Fat Biltong

Knowing the difference between yellow fat and white fat biltong will help you decide which fatty biltong you prefer and will help you understand why there is often a price difference between the two.

Yellow Fat Biltong

Beta-carotene is found in grass and is naturally what grass-fed cattle eat, causing a yellow tinge in the fat. It is a natural form of vitamin A and is very healthy for both the cattle and for us. It may sound confusing because grass is green, but when you take out the chlorophyll (the pigment which makes it green), you are left with yellow grass. If grass is left in a shaded area over time, you will notice it goes yellow and loses its green colour. 

Now, you may have heard people speak about C-grade beef as the ONE for biltong, and we believe this to be true. C-grade is an older cow. The yellow fat that it contains is found to be almost translucent and is oilier than the fat found in grain-fed beef. 

Ten years ago, it was available at a much lower cost, however, people have realized over time that it makes exceptional biltong, and the price has increased over the last few years. Nowadays, C-grade silverside, topside, rump, etc actually cost more than A-grade beef due to the high demand. Not only is the fat content great in C-grade beef, but we have found that the meat itself is richer and tastier than its A-grade counterpart. 

I have found that certain parts of South Africa have proven to have better yellow fat production. Northern Cape and KZN seem to be where the best meat in SA comes from. Here in the Western Cape, specifically Cape Town, it's difficult to get a consistently good supply of C-grade meat with yellow fat. Sometimes suppliers offer C-grade but with zero fat content and still charge a high price. So, for those who enjoy leaner biltong, remember that grass-fed is still tastier and healthier.

White Fat Biltong

This type of fat comes from grain-fed cows and is usually A-grade or B-grade beef meaning its younger cows. There is barely any beta-carotene in grain which is used in the feedlots for cattle. This means the cattle will not have a yellow fat tinge, but rather a more “natural” white colour. This meat is not as healthy for you as it has a higher calorie count and has a higher fat content than you find in grass-fed beef. 

Now, having said this, I have come across A-grade meat with white fat that was just as tasty, oily, and translucent as yellow fat so, don’t be too hasty to disapprove of white fat biltong. Although it's not as great as grass-fed biltong, it's still delicious and generally more affordable. Biltong fat is often considered the best part of biltong for most people but, like everything else, it’s important to eat it in moderation whether it's white or yellow. 

Biltong Prices in South Africa

So, if grass-fed is so much better tasting and better for your health, why don’t we just produce more grass-fed beef?

The answer is quite simple – production costs. Grain-fed beef is more affordable, mostly because it takes less time to fatten the cattle and there is less manual labour involved with raising grain-fed cows compared to free-roaming grass-fed cows. As a result, cattle farmers are able to produce a higher quantity with a faster turnover.

Sampson’s Biltong – Biltong Delivery in Cape Town and South Africa

We know that price plays a big role in consumer behaviour but have found that people will always appreciate quality too. 

For this reason, we make sure that we source only the best quality grain-fed beef available, so that we can provide our customers with good quality, affordable biltong in Cape Town. 

We are also in the process of adding grass-fed biltong to our product list for the biltong lovers who prefer the healthier option for their snack times. Visit our online shop to order our small batch, artisanal biltong which is available in traditional, chili, and chutney flavours.

Get in touch with us


Rondebosch East

Cape Town





+27 723154042

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