Giant bluefin tuna sold for £107,000 at new year auction in Japan — down for third year

Ceremonial auction registered drop in price as Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact restaurant and dining industries

Sravasti Dasgupta
Friday 07 January 2022 12:40
<p>Staff members of Ginza Onodera restaurant cut the tuna auctioned at 16.9 million yen earlier in the day at the Toyosu Wholesale Market in Tokyo on 5 January</p>

Staff members of Ginza Onodera restaurant cut the tuna auctioned at 16.9 million yen earlier in the day at the Toyosu Wholesale Market in Tokyo on 5 January

A giant bluefin tuna was auctioned for 16.9m yen (£107,000) at Japan’s annual new year ceremonial fish sale on Wednesday.

But the sizeable sale actually represented a drop in price for the third straight year in the auction as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact the restaurant and dining industry.

The giant, 211-kg bluefin tuna was caught off Oma in northern Japan.

It was bought by Japanese wholesaler Yamayuki who teamed up with Michelin-starred sushi chain operator Onodera Group for the auction at the Toyosu Wholesale market, which is the largest in the world, according to Bloomberg.

“It’s so plump — I knew that would be the one as soon as I walked into the market. The quality was high, too,” said a spokesperson for Onodera Food Service.

The spokesperson added that the tuna will be served at all of Onodera’s 12 sushi restaurants across the world, including New York and Shanghai, after it is cut at Ginza Onodera in Tokyo’s Omotesando shopping district.

While the auction at the wholesale market is known for the extravagant prices that buyers spend in their competition for prized fish and prestige, the winning bluefin tuna has been recording a drop in prices for the last three years amid pandemic restrictions.

Last year, the winning bid for a 208.4kg giant bluefin tuna was 20.84m yen (£130,000), about 19 per cent higher than this year’s price, reported Nikkei.

But before the pandemic, the winning bids in the closely-watched auction regularly ran into the hundreds of millions of yen.

In 2020, Kiyomura Corp, which runs the Sushizanmai restaurant chain across Japan, paid 193.2 million yen. In 2019, the company won the auction by paying a record 333.6 million yen (£2.14m) for the winning bluefin tuna.

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