Would you pay HK$3,500 for ONE strawberry? In Japan they do

Would you pay HK$3,500 for ONE strawberry? In Japan they do

Speciality producers of the berries are vying to offer the most sought after of several high-end brands

 A giant strawberry, called a 'Skyberry', for sale at a fruit shop in Tokyo. Photo: Kyodo

Growers of giant, juicy, sweet strawberries are competing to be Japan’s top strawberry brand, reflecting an increase in demand both at home and abroad, as well as efforts to promote local produce and stimulate prefectural economies.

Often bought as a gift item for weddings, birthdays or parties, strawberries can command high prices in Japan where one strawberry can fetch as much as 50,000 yen (HK$3,254) on an online shopping site.

Reflecting heated competition for quality improvement, some 50 new strawberry varieties have been registered in Japan since 2011, bringing the total number of brands to 253 as of March.

Brightly coloured, succulent strawberries are usually sold at Japanese department stores or fruit specialty retailers. Amaou strawberries from Fukuoka Prefecture in southwestern Japan are a front-runner, boasting the highest average sales price per kilogram of about 1,200 yen in 2013 among major domestic producers.

The brand name is a kind of acronym for the Japanese words “akai” (red), “marui” (round), “ookii” (big) and “umai” (delicious).

At Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza shopping district, Amaou strawberries were prominently displayed with price tags ranging from 1,620 yen to 5,400 yen for a box of 10 to 12.

“The taste of Fukuoka’s Amaou is an amazing balance of sweet and acid, that’s why the variety attracts so many customers,” said 47-year-old Toyoharu Komine, head of a Sun Fruits Co shop in the department store, adding the product also attracts tourists from the rest of Asia and Middle Eastern countries.

Leung Kwai-kuen, a 42-year-old Hong Kong traveller who came to Japan with his father, bought two boxes of Amaou strawberries, saying: “Japan’s strawberries looks so juicy and cute, so we want to buy some for our relatives.”

Closing in on Amaou are the newly developed Skyberry strawberries from Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, where the yield of strawberries is the highest among Japan’s 47 prefectures. Tochigi farmers spent 17 years to produce Skyberry strawberries.

Shipping has just begun. At the flagship store of fruits specialty retailer Takano Co in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, Skyberry strawberries were selling for 500 yen apiece.

The cone-shaped, bright red Skyberry was also used to make strawberry parfaits at the Takano fruits parlour, becoming one of the most popular items on the menu.

“We sold a record 320 strawberry parfaits priced at around 1,700 yen each in one day when we launched the product in February,” said Naoko Kubo, an official of the Shinjuku Takano.

At a Skyberry farm in Sano, Tochigi, farm owner Kohei Shinozaki said he is happy that consumers are satisfied with his produce, but says he cannot take time off and that great care is needed to grow the strawberries.

Other prefectures are also working hard to grow high-quality strawberries, with the aim of boosting their profile and as well as the regional economy.

Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo, has created white strawberries with the romantic brand name Hatsukoi no Kaori ‘Scent of First Love’ that are juicy and sweet tasting. The colour on the surface and inside is white, but the seeds are red.

Published by

Robert Chaen

Global CEO-Founder of ChangeU and Movsha Movers & Shakers, Hero-CEO Whisperer, Writer, The #1 Alpha Change Expert, Father of Asian FireWalking Robert Chaen is an International Keynote Speaker, writer, researcher, and corp games designer. He is famously known to be the “Hero-CEO Whisperer”, 1-on1 coaching with many CEOs and Celebrities for corporate strategies, staff & office political issues, personal branding, and even public figure OSHA safety drilling called Drager Defense. He has transformed CEOs and managers in Coca-Cola China, TVB Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airport Services, VADS, TM, Public Bank, Auditor General's Office Maldives, etc. He is the prolific creator and online Author of innovative management tools such as DragonCEO, Diamond Leader, Papillon Personal Effectiveness, OSHA Drager Defense, KPI Bank, etc. He is also the Founder of Movsha, an international networking with monthly mingles with MOVers & SHAkers, Angels, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, Celebrities, HR-PR-CSR, HODs, and the Most Influential IDEA people. ​Chaen is widely considered as one of the top International Platform Keynote Speakers for Resorts World Genting Senior Management Conference (Manila), 7-Eleven HK, Samsung, Coca-Cola China Mini-MBA @Tsing Hua University, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Jockey Club, The Story Conference where he interviewed Datuk Kamarudin (Chairman of AirAsia) and Siti Nurhaliza. He has been widely featured in TVB, AWSJ, CNBC, SCMP, The Star, and Sin Chew. As “The Father of Asian FireWalking”, he coached TVB celebrities (Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin) to walk on 650°C fire; and raised HK$68M in the world’s 1st and only live TV Charity FireWalk (TVB Tung Wah Charity Show), before Tony Robbins even came to Asia. If Robert can get you to walk on 650⁰C fire, he can inspire you to be THE BEST. He champions CN-HK-EU-US Tycoons to be philanthropic, and to be angel investors to support the next generation of Jack Mas, Steve Jobs, Richard Bransons, Steven Spielbergs, or Barrack Obamas. With some slick motivational speakers with fake doctorates out there, graduates often describe Robert to be "the most credible, empowering, truthful Coach" who believe in his graduates to believe in themselves. ​However, clients have described Robert as "The #1 Cool Badass Alpha Change Expert". He has the coolest first class stature, rapport and trust from clients. He will not hesitate to tell the badass truth ever so gently because clients are paying him big bucks to reveal the truth, find solutions, persuade the hostile HODs, and align cross-teams within the organization. Originally based in Hong Kong for 20+ years, he had worked with top Branding/Ad agencies at J Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett, and was a certified FranklinCovey (7 Habits) in USA, and NLP MasterCoach (USA). His warmth is known to soften the most hardened, resistant sceptics. He will inspire your team to Go for Top 1, or to be a Dragon CEO. With boundless energies, Robert owns 15+ successful business Joint-Ventures, and created unique products under his global VC network called Chaen's Angels VC. He is deeply passionate about ChangeUTH Youth CSR, Science-Based Medicine (vs. quackery), short films and Reality TV. Touched by a personal tragedy through the loss of his HK-born Portuguese wife, co-coach and business partner, Brenda José of 18 years, Robert explores the many ways in which the spirit world is communicating with the living with real scientific studies and evidence. He gives inspiring conferences on The Secret Afterlife.

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