Record price paid by shop owner for about 30 fruits of the Ruby Roman variety, which is considered a status symbol
A bunch of grapes has fetched a record price at an auction in Japan, where the fruit is considered a status symbol.
The bunch of about 30 grapes of the Ruby Roman variety sold for 1.1m yen (£8,350) – about £270 a grape. Each grape is roughly the size of a ping pong ball.
The grapes are grown in Ishikawa prefecture, and to qualify for the Ruby Roman designation, each grape must weigh at least 20g and have a sugar content of at least 18%.
According to the Ruby Roman club website run by the Ishikawa prefecture, the cultivation process began in 1992 when seeds of the Fujiminori variety were sown. Over the years, they were then cultivated into the Roman Ruby variety, which was named after submissions from the public in 2004. The first grapes went on sale in 2008, and prices have been rising ever since.
Seasonal fruit offerings in Japan routinely attract large sums from buyers seeking social prestige, or from shop owners keen to attract customers.
The buyer of Thursday’s bunch promised to dole out samples to a few fortunate patrons.
“These are truly Ruby Roman gems,” bidder Takamaru Konishi from western Japan told the press.
“We will display them at our store before giving our customers a sample taste,” he said.
The sale kicks off the auction season for Ruby Romans in Japan. Other fruits, from apples to watermelons, can also fetch huge sums under the hammer.
The king of fruits in the country is the melon, which serves as a status symbol akin to a vintage wine, and is given as a high-ranking gift. A single pair of melons fetched 1.5m yen at an auction last year.