A ryokan chain operator has purchased Ruby Roman grapes at an auction in Japan for 1.3 million yen ($12,000) to help encourage people to appreciate food amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Inn chain operator Hyakurakuso placed its bid for the rare ping pong-sized grapes, which was developed in Ishikawa Prefecture, at an auction on Thursday in central Japan for 1.3 million yen, according to Kyodo News
“We made the highest bid to encourage society as it suffers from the new coronavirus, and with an appreciation for food,” Mitsutaka Sakamoto, the 39-year-old head chef of Hyakurakuso, said. “We would like to provide hope for agricultural producers across the country.”
Hyakurakuso bought the grapes through a wholesaler at a market in Kanazawa.
Harvest of the Ruby Roman grapes happens for three months, starting in July with 26,000 special grapes that will be up for sale until September.
Known for its high sugar content, but low acidity, the Ruby Roman made its debut in the market in August 2008.
High valued fruits, such as the Ruby Roman, are often bought as gifts for special occasions, according to Soyeon Shim, dean of the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison via We Are Resonate
“People purchase these expensive fruits to demonstrate how special their gifts are to the recipients, for special occasions or for someone socially important, like your boss,” Shim said.