In 2019, two expensive melons sold at an auction for $45,000. While this was an auction to help raise money for Japanese farmers and local businesses, it still should come as some surprise to hear that two singular fruits sold for such a high price. But what types of melons could possibly sell for over $20,000 per melon, and is this a type of melon that you can taste for yourself?
In this article, we will discuss this rare and interesting event, including the type of melon that sold at auction for $45,000. We will go over what these melons mean to Japan and the region they are from, as well as where you might find one of these melons for yourself. Let’s get started now!
What Melon Costs Over $20k Per Melon?
Selling for 5 million yen in 2019, a pair of Yubari King melons gripped the internet and the agricultural industry. An auction held in Sapporo in Japan, the first auction of the season, brought crowds of people interested in purchasing wholesale fruits and vegetables. A celebratory affair, the average Yubari King melon doesn’t exactly cost over $20,000 normally.
However, this doesn’t mean that Yubari King melons aren’t special. Grown in Yubari, a small town near Sapporo, Yubari King melons are obviously named after the region they are grown in. Needing 100 days to reach maturity, Yubari King melons are juicy, delicious, and delicately tended to by farmers and staff. These expensive melons are monitored daily, given baths when they are dirty and even hats when they get too much sunlight. It’s so expensive because of this level of care, and only a select few Yubari King melons make the cut each harvest season.
However, why did a pair of these expensive melons sell for so much at this particular auction?
Why Did These Expensive Melons Sell for $45,000?
In 2019, the president of Pocca Sapporo Food & Beverage placed the winning bid on two Yubari King melons at the auction held in Sapporo. Yoshihiro Iwata stated at the time that the bid was “an expression of our gratefulness to the local agricultural cooperative and melon farmers” located in Yubari specifically. Pocca Sapporo Food & Beverage also makes a Yubari melon beverage and wanted to celebrate its ten-year anniversary of manufacturing and distributing it!
The agricultural industry in Japan differs greatly from the United States. So much of Japan’s fruit industry focuses on quality over quantity, especially when you consider the fact that fruit is a welcome and special gift during most gift-giving seasons in Japan. This is why there are grapes that sell for over $4,000 a bunch, and why farmers create special transparent boxes for their watermelons so that they will grow in unique shapes with only a select few available for purchase.
While it may make the Yubari King melon exclusive and revered for its flavor and relative difficulty to procure, not all Yubari King melons cost over $20,000. They average roughly $200 per melon; still highly expensive for a single melon, but certainly not as much as their symbolic melons that sold at auction in 2019!
The Different Tiers of Yubari King Melons
If we take a closer look at Yubari King melons, there are a few different tiers of them. The lowest tier of melon is known as “yuki,” and these melons have visible scars or blemishes. The next level is known as “shiro,” followed by “yama,” and the top-tier melons are known as “fuji.” These do indeed affect the price of Yubari melons sold in stores, as the lowest-level fruits sell for an average of $20-$40 per melon.
It is estimated that only a single melon out of every thousand melons is good enough to earn a “fuji” ranking. When you consider the fact that the city of Yubari only produces a finite amount of melons per year, the top-tier melons must be difficult to get ahold of. And once you find it, you have to be able to afford it!
Where Can I Find the Infamous Yubari King Melon?
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find Yubari King melons outside of Japan. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestries, and Fisheries gave the Yubari King melon a regional status back in 2015, which essentially means that Yubari melons are a brand name and regionally specific to the city of Yubari in Japan.
While you can grow a few Yubari melon cultivars, they won’t be considered true Yubari King melons because they aren’t from Yubari. However, there are a few different websites and produce supply shops that might be able to ship Yubari King melons to you. Given their freshness and demand, as well as their brief growing season, this may be a monumental task- but you’ll likely end up paying less than $45,000 for a pair of Yubari King melons!