When you’ve been covering the food beat for as long as I have, you come across some pretty crazy stories. And sometimes, you have the pleasure of coming across the same one every year. The annual Ruby Roman grape auction in Japan definitely fits into that category – where people regularly buy a single bunch of grapes for the price of a decent used car.
Ruby Roman grapes are only grown in Japan’s Ishikawa prefecture and must meet additional criteria for weight and sugar content to qualify for the designation. But it’s the very first bunch of these grapes that is especially coveted because they are believed to bring good luck. So since 2008, when the grapes were first sold, this initial batch has seen its value continue to skyrocket.
Last July, the first bunch of 26 grapes sold at auction for an astonishing $8,200 – or about $315 per grape. But don’t show off your best spit-take just yet. The 2016 auction, which was held today, smashed that record, with this year’s bunch of 30 selling for a whopping $11,000 – or over $360 per grape. Do you think they’re seedless? I feel like at that price they’re probably seedless.
So what do you do with $360 grapes? Give them away for free apparently. “We will display them at our store before giving our customers a sample taste,” said winning bidder Takamaru Konishi. Seems like a decent marketing ploy. Who wouldn’t want to shop at the grocery store with $360 grapes? Everything else would seem dirt cheap in comparison: “Hey! Look at these shitty Concord grapes! They’re only $3.00 for a whole bag full!”