Tunas sold in auctions to Japan Source: Bloomberg/Noriyuki Aida

Sushi is a Japanese food usually served in delicately wrapped pieces. The pieces consist of cooked rice and ingredients, such as raw uncooked seafood, vegetables, and sometimes tropical fruit.

Because the seafood in sushi is uncooked, it must be absolutely fresh when it is prepared and served. The price of sushi usually depends on the kind of seafood it is made of and the quality of ingredients. Sushi from very rare fresh fish can be extremely expensive, which, in turn, drives up the price of caught fish.

An example of such fish is the Bluefin tuna. It is usually sold at auctions at fish markets.

Tsukiji is a fish market located in Tokyo and is the largest food market in the world. According to Japan’s National Tourism Organization, the market is one of Japan’s most popular attractions. It trades more than 400 different types of seafood and has around 60,000 registered employees. Most mornings it opens at 3:00 a.m. when the products arrive by ship, truck, and plane from all over the world. Auction houses located at the market then estimate the value of incoming seafood and prepare it for auction. Next, buyers inspect the fish and choose in which auctions to participate. Purchased seafood is then loaded onto trucks and shipped to the next destination or is relocated to many small shops located all over the market.

Most of high-price records at such auctions have been set by various sushi chains. For example, according to Bloomberg, in Tsukiji’s first auction of 2013, Kiyomura K.K., a Tokyo-based sushi chain, paid a record $1.76 million for a whole fresh tuna that weighed 489 pounds. Such a fish would later be cut into about 10,000 pieces for sushi and sold at the chain’s restaurants.

 

 

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