A grocery store owner in Japan recently paid 1.1 million yen ($11,000) for a bunch of grapes of the Ruby Roman variety. He now plans to put them on display in his store and then give them to customers as taste samples.
Special fruits are a status symbol in Japan, sort of like rare wines in the Western world. It’s also customary to give high-quality fruits for formal occasions like weddings, business meetings or hospital visits and there are specialized fruit shops that sell only the rarest, most perfect products, grown in special conditions to ensure they look and taste as good as possible. The truly exceptional fruits are regularly auctioned off to the highest bidder, who often gift them to people perceived to be of a higher status, as a sign of respect and appreciation.
The 30 grapes bought by Takamaru Konishi were the first of the Ruby Roman variety harvested this season. They were the size of ping pong balls, and the buyer himself called them “truly Ruby Roman gems”. Well, they better had been, to be worth $11,000, or $370 per grape.