The Real Reason These Melons Are So Expensive

If you've ever been to Japan, you may have noticed that in certain department stores and luxury food shops, you can find unusual fruits with outrageous price tags attached to them. A few hundred dollars for a square watermelon, perhaps, or maybe $400 for a single bunch of grapes (via Sora News).

One such fruit is the Yubari King melon, which is a hybrid of two cantaloupe species (via The Independent).

As with many luxury food and beverage items like champagne, bourbon, or Kobe beef, Yubari King melons can only be grown in a certain region of Hokkaido Prefecture (via Taste Atlas). In 2017, a pair of melons sold for over $26,000, which broke a previous record of more than $23,000. However, the stratospheric five-digit selling prices are often publicity stunts carried out by corporations that know they'll receive free advertising if they spend an outrageous amount on something.

Raising a Yubari King melon

Even so, ultra-premium specimens fetch such a high sum because of their perfection and the care with which they're raised. The skin features no blemishes and both the seller and farmer often wear white gloves when handling the produce. The luxury fruits are most often given as gifts and require constant care and attention to ensure that they come out looking and tasting their best (via Business Insider). 

At the beginning of the melon's life cycle, the farmers ensure that the best seeds are chosen, and then remove all but one of the flower buds on the vine to ensure that the melon won't have to compete with other fruits for nutrients (via Reader's Digest). They're generally grown in greenhouses in soil rich with volcanic ash, are often pollinated by hand, and can be grown in individual boxes for protection. The fruits are harvested with a pair of scissors. The melon is lauded for its sweetness, and even less perfect ones can sell for anywhere between $50 and $200.