Slump hits Japan's most expensive melons
The latest victim of Japan's recession is round, sweet and famous for being shockingly expensive.
The first two Yubari melons of the season were auctioned today in northern Japan and fetched 500,000 yen ($5,200). Pricey? Certainly. But it's practically a steal if you consider last year's winning bid — a record 2.5 million yen, or about $26,000. In 2007 they sold for 2 million yen.
It appears the world's swankiest melon is in a major deflationary slump.
Weighing about eight pounds, the premium cantaloupes were part of the season's initial harvest at Sapporo Central Wholesale Market. Every year buyers flock to the market for a shot at the prestige of winning the very first melons of the year.
The orange-fleshed melons are grown only in the city of Yubari, a small town on the northern island of Hokkaido. Valued for their perfect proportions and taste, they are typically given as gifts by Japanese during the summer.
The other melons at the first auction aren't quite as expensive, but even those tumbled in price this year. The average price Friday of 84 melons was about $400, down from $630 last year, according to the Sankei newspaper.
Department stores and high-end retailers sell the fruit to the public for $50 to $100, though prices can run much higher depending on quality.
Yubari official Kaoru Hirano says the dramatic drop in this year's winning bid is actually good for the financially strapped city, which needs its melon industry to buck the recession.
"I think last year was highly unusual," Hirano said. "Such a high price gave the melons a bit of an image problem. Everyone began to think that they were just too expensive, and this hurt the average retailer."
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
Lucy Hawking: Stephen Hawking's daughter writes impassioned open letter to Katie Hopkins about rights of disabled people
Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
Russian warships accused of 'chasing away' Swedish vessel to prevent Baltic States from achieving energy independence
How the language you speak changes your view of the world
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...