I don’t pretend to understand why someone would pay more than the price of most houses for one fish.
Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) — Kiyomura K.K., a Tokyo-based sushi chain operator, paid a record 56 million yen ($730,000) for a frozen whole tuna, the first Japan-based winner of the New Year auction at the capital’s main fish market in four years.
The 269 kilogram (593 pound) fish was sold to Kiyomura at the auction in Tsukiji today in the year’s first bidding session, said Hiroshi Umehara, a spokesman for the company, which runs the Sushizanmai chain of 46 restaurants across Japan.
‘We really wanted to provide good tuna to the locals because foreign companies have been outbidding us for the tuna in the past three years,’ said Umehara. ‘We don’t think this is a proper price.’
The fish, caught off the coast of Japan’s northern Aomori prefecture, will be cut into about 10,000 pieces of sushi, according to Umehara, making the average cost for each 5,649 yen. The price for the first tuna of the year, touted as an auspicious prize, also comes to 210,000 yen per kilogram, compared with the 14,962 yen per kilogram highest price paid for Dec. 29 and the 26,932 yen maximum on Dec. 30.
That’s $72 per piece of sushi. Just for the raw material. I don’t think they can pass most of that cost onto customers either. Although I live in Japan and I like to eat sushi, I’ve never paid anything more than about 500 yen ($6 or $7) for a plate of sushi, and most plates are more in the 180-380 yen range for two pieces on a plate. Of course the restaurants I frequent are probably much more downscale than this one. One year my company had a year-end party at a fugu place, which was awesome, and I didn’t have to pay for it. That probably cost the company about $100 per head.