An unidentified buyer purchased a crate of mandarin oranges for 1 million Japanese yen, according to a press release from the JA Nishiuwa Agricultural Cooperative, which converts to around $9,600.
The crate of 100 Nishiuwa mandarin oranges from the produce brand Hinomaru were auctioned off on Thursday at Ota Market, a central farm produce wholesaler in Tokyo. Having been kicked off at 7 a.m., the auction was the first for the season.
Nishiuwa mandarin oranges will be going into its “full-scale season” and will be shipped throughout the country until early January, the cooperative’s press release states.
"This year's Nishiuwa oranges also have an excellent balance of sugar content and acidity,” said Kazuhiro Takenaka, a director at the Nishiuwa Agricultural Cooperative, in a statement.
The mandarin oranges grown in the Nishiuwa District of Japan are also known as satsuma mandarin oranges, which are prized for being a sweet, seedless and easy-to-peel citrus fruit, according to the 2nd-edition Dictionary of Plant Breeding.
These oranges are grown and shipped from 10 locations within the Ehime prefecture, an area located in the southern island of Shikoku, which is more than 500 miles southwest of Tokyo.
More specifically, the 44-pound crate of Hinomaru-grown mandarin oranges that fetched the several thousand-dollar sum were raised in the coastal city of Yawatahama. The high-end fruits were also packaged in a paulownia wooden box, according to the Nishiuwa Agricultural Cooperative.
Not counting the cost of its historically-significant packaging, the auctioned Hinomaru crate has a unit price that is roughly around $96 per orange.
However, this inaugural auction is far from Japan’s current record price for mandarin oranges. In June, a harvest of mandarin oranges were sold for around $966 apiece while boxes of 25 sold for around $2,4932, according to Nippon.com – a national news outlet.
Mandarin oranges were the most harvested fruit in Japan from 2016 to 2017 with hundreds of thousands of tons produced, according to a report issued from the Japanese Statistics Bureau last year.