Baku, July 9, AZERTAC
Move aside, $6,200 melon: a single bunch of grapes sold for ¥1 million ($8,200) at a wholesale auction Thursday in Japan's Ishikawa prefecture.
The selling price for the Ruby Roman grapes, grown in the prefecture on the west coast of Japan, was almost double last year's record-breaking price of ¥550,000 — also for the same type of grape. The bunch that sold contained 26 grapes, meaning a single grape was worth about ¥38,000, ($315). It weighed about 700 grams (1.5 pounds).
The winning bid belonged to Chef Masayuki Hirai of Hotel Nikko Kanazawa, in the prefecture's capital city. Mr. Hirai told Japanese national broadcaster NHK that he wanted to the world to know about the good things in Ishikawa, especially with the connection of a new Shinkansen line this year that has made travel to the area easier. The grapes will be used for dessert at the hotel's restaurant over the next few days.
Ruby Roman grapes were selectively bred to emphasize sweetness and low acidity. The breed was developed over 14 years and the grapes went on sale in 2008, setting price records at auction nearly every year.
The first batch of fruit and other foods is thought to bring good luck in Japan, and often attract bids considerably above true market value at auction.
This year's crop started shipping out to select stores in Kanazawa on Thursday, but it hasn't been decided when it will go on sale elsewhere, said Tetsuo Yabu, a sales and distribution manager at the prefecture's Office of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The sales price in stores could start at around ¥25,000, depending on the quality.