Why Are Yubari Melons So Expensive?

Yubari melons are a japanese cantaloupe that is farmed in Yūbari Hokkaido. Yubari melons are more commonly known as Yubari King melons, which makes a lot of sense for its price. 

Yubari king melons have taken the place as being the most expensive melon in the world. A yubari melon can easily be sold for anywhere from $100 to $13,500 and in 2017 a few yubari melons were sold for $26,000. That is what gave these melons the title of being the most expensive melon. Prices are still rising on this melon.

Yubari king melons are so expensive for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons include a high focus on perfection, a small growing location, and picky harvesting. There is a lot of care that goes into these melons, making them the price of luxury brands.

Where the Yubari Melons are Grown

Yubari melons aren’t hard to grow. They take 100 days to mature and be ready for harvest while also growing all year long. With that, they shouldn’t be as rare as they are, right?

No. Yubari king melons are incredibly rare because they are only grown in one location. The only Yubari King melon farms are in Yubari, Hokkaido. They can’t be grown elsewhere both because of the lack of resources and lack of culture. 

They wouldn’t be yubari melons if they were grown in Denmark. Other locations can try to grow them, but they would never match the quality of those grown in Yubari.

With how limited the growing spaces for these melons are, there aren’t many melons that get produced each year. This becomes a huge reason for why these melons are as pricy as they are. 

The Focus on Perfection

The main reason why these melons are so expensive and that no other country can replicate them is because of the focus on perfection.

These melons are assisted in their growing process in every aspect. They are grown in greenhouses kept at certain temperatures ranging from 25-28℃ and are grown with volcanic ash in the soil. 

The climate of Hokkaido helps greatly with the growing of yubari melons. The sunny days with cool nights that this location has provides the perfect amount of sun and heat for the melons to thrive. 

These melons are pollinated by hand, cared for by hand, and harvested by hand. No sign of mass manufacturing can be seen there.

Farmers choose the best seeds to plant and when the vine grows they only keep 1 flower intact so that it can get all the nutrients. Each vine ends up being preserved for 1 perfect melon. 

The First Harvest

The first harvest of a plant is the most important as they become the most expensive. People pay the most for the first melons as they are the most perfect. They are the sweetest, the firmest, and the best looking. 

The farmers put so much care into making sure the first batch is perfect. They check for any skin blemishes, any misshapen melons, and even wear white gloves when handling them. 

The less-than-perfect melons get sold as well, but they aren’t held to such a high luxury. These melons will still cost over $40, but they are more commonly given as gifts to friends, family, and bosses. 

The focus on perfection makes people willing to spend so much money on them.

Status and Auctioning

In Japan, where these melons are grown, one’s status is super important. Showing off wealth in one way that people will make their social status recognized. Buying really expensive fruits such as the yubari melon is one way to show off wealth.

Many of the more expensive melons aren’t bought at the market but instead at an auction. Either very rich people or companies will bid on yubari melons at an auction and end up spending a lot for them. In 2019, a pair of melons were sold for 5 million yen, or $45,000. They were bought by Pokka Sapporo Food & Beverage Ltd as a company celebration.

Yubari king melons aren’t sold for this much currently, but their prices are still very high. Having bought them makes companies and individuals look good, which is a huge reason why there are melons that are this insane price.

What’s So Special About Yubari Melons

It may seem out there for people to put so much emphasis on a melon, but there are reasons why this melon gets so much praise.

First, it’s the perfect fruit. Yubari Melons are sensible and balanced, which reflects a lot of Japanese society. Farmers make sure the melons aren’t too sweet or too bland while making sure they are visually perfect too. They are appealing to the tastebuds and the eye.

Yubari Melons also hold cultural significance. Before world war 2, Yubari cultivated melons, but that had to stop when the war started. It wasn’t until the end of the war that they could be grown again, but there was a struggle.

Yubari people cross-bred their cantaloupes with the European cantaloupe, which is what creates today’s Yubari King melon. This is where the significance of these melons took place.

Also, gift giving is a very important part of Japanese culture. The nicer the gifts, the better. The Yubari King melons that are being bought as gifts are bought at markets instead of auctions. The typical price for these gift melons is anywhere from $40 – $200, sometimes more. So, why not a very expensive and perfect melon to make yourself appealing to the eyes of the gift receiver. 

These points combined give light to how the Yubari King melon pertains to the Japanese status markers. What’s more perfect than obtaining the perfect fruit?

Eating Yubari King Melons

Since these melons are handled with perfection in the growing process, they are also handled with perfection in the eating process.

The melon must be refrigerated and have the stem removed due to its bitterness. You must also then was the knife to remove any bitter flavor. The melon gets sliced and the seeds scooped out. 

The rind creates a bowl that you eat out of. Taking one-half of the fruit, you eat it with a spoon right out of the rind. Or, if catering to more people, you would slice the fruit into wedges, slice the flesh of the wedges into 8 slices (without slicing the rind) and eat with a fork. 

Other methods may involve the use of salting or adding brandy. No matter what method of eating is chosen, the person preparing the melon must handle it with extreme care. 

Final Thoughts

Yubari king melons are the most expensive melon, or even fruit, in the entire world. There isn’t another kind of produce that requires so much delicate care and energy. Everything about these melons makes them expensive from the cost of having farmers put so much energy into them to not being able to grow them anywhere other than Yubari. 

The most common price for the more affordable Yubari King melons are $200 but can easily be sold for over $20,000. With covid-19, the prices of these melons have decreased, no longer being sold for 5 million yen like in 2019. However, the average person still won’t be able to pay the decreased price of $10,000. 

If you ever get the opportunity to try a Yubari King melon, don’t pass it up. It isn’t likely that you would ever get the chance to try the definition of perfect fruit ever again.