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Two Yubari Melons that are priced 120,000 yen (about $ 1120), are displayed at Sapporo Central Wholesale Market in Sapporo City, Hokkaido Prefecture on May 25, 2020. The first auction of "Yubari Melon" was held on the same day, and the price was the lowest ever recorded due to the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19 infection. Last year, two yubari melons were knocked down with 5,000,000 yen (over $ 45,000). Yubari melon, which has orange-colored flesh and strong sweetness, is popular nationwide as a luxury melon brand, and is cultivated by 103 farmers in Yubari city, Hokkaido Prefecture. Harvesting will continue until September, and the total of 3,800 tons will be shipped. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun ) (Photo by Takuya Matsumoto / Yomiuri / The Yomiuri Shimbun via AFP)

World

Japan premium melons go for $24,800 after virus slump

TokyoJapan, May 24 – In what might be the unlikeliest indicator of a post-pandemic recovery, a pair of premium Japanese melons have sold for $24,800 at auction, over 22 times more than last year’s virus-hit price.

The 2.7 million yen price tag at the season’s first auction for the famed Yubari melons is still a snip compared to records for the prized produce.

“This year’s recovery in price can be seen as a result of buyers looking to encourage people by putting in higher bids,” a wholesale market official told AFP.

The successful bidder was a local manufacturer of baby food, whose president said he hoped the purchase would spread a bit of a good cheer.

“Although there’s still plenty of negative news, I hope this can help people smile and overcome the coronavirus pandemic,” he told national broadcaster NHK.

Seasonal fruit offerings in Japan routinely attract massive sums from buyers seeking prestige and plenty of free publicity.

In 2019, a pair of Yubari melons went for a record five million yen but the price plunged to just 120,000 yen last year, with growers blaming the virus for keeping away rich bidders eager to outdo each other.

The melons come from Hokkaido, the country’s northernmost main island and a popular tourist destination.

The region is currently under a virus state of emergency along with nine other areas including the capital Tokyo.

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