Local wins top tuna bid: ¥56 million

Bloomberg, Kyodo

Sushi chain operator Kiyomura K.K. paid a record ¥56 million for a frozen whole tuna Thursday, making it the first Japan-based company to win the New Year’s auction at Tsukiji fish market in four years.

The 269-kg fish was sold during the Tokyo fish market’s first bidding session of the year, said Hiroshi Umehara, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based firm, which runs the Sushizanmai chain of 46 sushi shops 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 price of the tuna, caught off Oma, Aomori Prefecture, comes to ¥210,000 per kilogram, breaking the previous record of ¥32.49 million, or ¥95,000 per kg, paid for a tuna from Hokkaido last year.

On Dec. 29, the highest price paid for a kilogram of tuna was ¥14,962, while the highest price on Dec. 30 came to ¥26,932.

The fish will be cut into about 10,000 pieces of sushi, according to Umehara, bringing the average cost of each piece to ¥5,649.

The prices fetched by the special tuna sold at Tsukiji’s first auctions have averaged ¥11.8 million over the past 15 years, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market’s website.

The previous record of ¥32.5 million was set last year, the market’s data say.