Today is the first day that Tsukiji Market is open, and the first tuna auction. The most expensive is called #1 tuna, ichiban maguro, and went for 74,200,000 JPY ($632,000 USD). The buyer was a popular sushi chain, Sushi Zanmai. The president, Kiyoshi Kimura, has bought the #1 tuna for the last six years running.
It was thought that last year would be the last tuna auction at the historic Tsukiji Market. Many issues have delayed the move to Toyosu.
President Kimura has said that he will cut the tuna at 2:00 p.m. at his Tsukiji Market main shop. He will sell the tuna at regular prices. The fatty tuna, ootoro, should sell for 10,000 JPY ($100) per piece, but he’ll sell it at regular prices, so 390 JPY ($4). As tuna is a big fish, it is actually better for it to be aged for a while for best flavor and texture, but it’s hard to resist having a bite of history.
It is important to understand the value of the tuna is not worth $632,000 USD, but that this is a popular marketing and PR opportunity for whoever buys the winning tuna. The media coverage alone on television is priceless. Every major news channel covered the event and followed the tuna to Sushi Zanmai. Interviews were held all morning and in the afternoon. The coverage will extend to the evening. Tomorrow’s print media will also have it on the front of almost every paper. So yes, it’s great publicity for the media-hungry Japanese market.
Tuna by the Numbers:
- 212 kg bluefin tuna from Ohma, Aomori
- $3,000 USD per kg (35,000 JPY per kg)
- $632,000 USD for the whole tuna
- 5 times the price of last year’s tuna
- The 2013 year’s record tuna sold for 155,400,000 JPY or roughly $1.76 million US Dollars.
- Estimated 15,000 pieces of sushi can be made from a tuna of this size. To make it even, each piece should be sold for 5,000 JPY, but will go for only 300 – 400 JPY.