• 5

    realteacher

    Whoever has to ask this must live in the big city. ;-p

    Take a ride out to the countryside sometime during the growing season and see the farmers placing 'little hats' on peaches, apples, grapes, etc... to keep them from getting sunburned. Also, watch as they cull half the fruit from each tree in order to enhance the growth of the remaining fruit. Finally, look at who is doing the work. It's not some migrant farm laborer from China or Vietnam. It's the farmers themselves.

    And from a marketing standpoint, observe why fruit is purchased. Especially grapes, peaches, melons, and apples. It's not so the family can enjoy a naturally sweet, tasty piece of fruit. They are viewed as gifts. Personally, I never buy the aforementioned fruits since the wifes family grow all of those things (except melons).

    Eventually, someone will figure out that this form of production is counter intuitive and will start growing for mass consumption, until then, expect to get jacked at the supermarket.

  • 0

    Brainiac

    Peaches and nectarines - two of my favorite summer fruits - seem very expensive this year. And I gave up on American cherries. I thought with the strong yen, they'd be cheaper this year. I love grapes but they are going to be out of my price range, too.

    Looks like it will be bananas, oranges and pineapples for me.

  • 1

    fds

    because the cost of everything is basically more expensive than elsewhere, land, labor, water, gas, electricity, etc.. also the attention to quality (wrapping to protect the fruit from sun and bugs and culling so the remaining fruit grow bigger) and distribution system. you pay less than half price if you buy direct from the farmer.

  • 0

    Probie

    Because the people have to subsidize the farmers. Paying Y200 or Y300 for an APPLE is ridiculous. You can buy 2 or 3 burgers at McDonalds for the same price.

    Japan should join the TPP and let consumers buy cheap fruit and veg. Some of the prices are extortionate for simple stuff. A few months ago, in my local supermarket, one head of lettuce was Y350.

    Farmers get subsidized by our taxes AND what we are forced to pay for their produce. That is unfair.

  • -2

    mitoguitarman

    One side benefit, fruit and vegetables here are about 10X tastier than in most other countries, especially N.Am. here factory farming has basically killed all the taste of fresh produce.

  • 7

    japan_cynic

    Because of the astonishingly inefficient agricultural methods here coupled to protectionism to keep out reasonably-priced imports. Same as all other foodstuffs.

    But everyone already knows this.

    It has to be admitted that the fruit is very good though, if you can overlook the price.

  • -1

    Wakarimasen

    Like most food in Japan. And not all that great tasting. Apples here too sweet, can't get nice tart grapes. Cherries wildly overpriced.

  • 2

    cleo

    Paying Y200 or Y300 for an APPLE is ridiculous. You can buy 2 or 3 burgers at McDonalds for the same price.

    You're comparing apples and oranges, er, burgers. No way a nice crisp healthy apple can be compared with a nasty greasy lump of minced beast shoved inside a piece of bleached-white 'bread'.

    Gimme the apple any day. And I've never paid 'Y200 or Y300 ' for an apple. Anything over ¥130 gets passed over, normally I can get a bag of 5 or 6 for ¥350 to ¥450.

  • -1

    tokyokawasaki

    One word answer = Inefficiency.

  • -1

    Probie

    You're comparing apples and oranges, er, burgers. No way a nice crisp healthy apple can be compared with a nasty greasy lump of minced beast shoved inside a piece of bleached-white 'bread'.

    My point is, when it costs Y300 for an apple or a head of lettuce if you want to eat healthy, it costs money.

    Gimme the apple any day. And I've never paid 'Y200 or Y300 ' for an apple.

    Maybe you haven't but others have. The fact that you can buy an apple for Y300 is crazy, especially when they're not anything special, just an overly-sweet apple.

    Anything over ¥130 gets passed over, normally I can get a bag of 5 or 6 for ¥350 to ¥450.

    Still stupidly expensive.

  • 1

    papasmurfinjapan

    I dunno, where I live bananas, oranges, apples, avocados, pineapples all seem to be reasonably priced. I'd love to find a place that sells cheap mangoes though...

  • 0

    TSRnow

    The fruit in Japan are like gems. They are overpriced but the quality is superb. I flipped when they showed a 5000yen strawberry on TV though. Not a box but ONE gigantic strawberry for 5K!

    Of course as some mentioned, you can still get fruit at a reasonable price when they are in season. The ones I don't understand are the Japanese pears that are sold direct from the farm, but still costs 1,000yen a piece...!

  • 2

    zichi

    Recently, for the first time in more than 20 years, I ate a British style pear, which just turned to mush in my mouth.

    In the markets we can find many good priced fruits and during the summer we get many gifts of fruits from clients.

  • 1

    Cos

    Table fruits (hand-picked) are more expensive than bulk. Sure in France, I can get 20 kg of apples for the equivalent of 100 yen... but I can't eat them. They are just good to make cider. So, yes, they don't sell us fruits for jam and such here. Well, not in the retail system, because if you want some, move your @ss to the production areas. In Kansai, they do mikan and kaki, and many times I have got my weight of bulk fruit for a coin. In cities, unless you exclusively shop in the underground of Daimaru, you have a choice of fruits that are in the range of price found in European stores. My fruit budget is 1000 to 1500 yen a week, I eat at least 3 servings a day. I buy some frozen if I need. So I don't get a worse deal than in France and that's much better than in the US.

    especially N.Am. here factory farming has basically killed all the taste of fresh produce.

    I agree. And the worst the consumers and shops are so absurd. In Hawaii, the shops propose blueberries. But in New-Jersey in Summer, never a local blueberry in shop, they were from Canada, and that was the choice with bananas, avocados, apples and pineapples. As if there were apples in June and the others grew locally. Plus all that was picked much greener than for European and Asian markets. So they were tasteless, which is the normal taste of fruits for Americans. I could see that there were cherry trees in gardens, but grocery stores had never seen any of those round fruits. Farmer's market... once a month, in season, one hour of car away...well out of reach. Oh, in New-York, grocers had superb displays. At depachika prices.

    You can buy 2 or 3 burgers at McDonalds for the same price. A few months ago, in my local supermarket, one head of lettuce was Y350.

    Have you worked at macdo ? And the salary was OK ? That's what you ask now ? Have you ever cultivated lettuces ? If we count only your salary at macdo rate (to prepare the ground, put in the seeds, water, pick...), how much would you sell them to someone coming to buy at the gate of your garden ? How efficient are you ?

    Japan should join the TPP and let consumers buy cheap fruit and veg.

    You can already buy the fruits from all Asian countries. Sure they arrive here more expensive. But well, it's easy to shake the mango or papaya tree over a sheet, tie the fruits in, and open to sell 2 hours later at the market in Bangkok, throw the unsold when the flies start flying around, do again every morning. They can sell dirt cheap. If they want to export the same fruits, they have to pick them one by one at the ideal maturation and place them in cases, place the cases in containers that keep temperature at 20 degrees during all the transport till your local Daiei... otherwise at arrival at Narita, it's already a big mount of half-frozen rotten fruit.

    I'd love to find a place that sells cheap mangoes though...

    Those from Okinawa are never cheap. I find the imported ones are at their cheapest. My local stores this week offers 300 yen for the big Mexican ones, 3 or 4 for 200 yen for the small Filipino ones. Frozen at 100~200 yen a kg are often better as they have not been picked too green.

  • -2

    Probie

    Have you worked at macdo ?

    No.

    And the salary was OK ?

    No idea. But, I bet people who work at McDonalds don't get subsidized by the government.

    That's what you ask now ? Have you ever cultivated lettuces ?

    Why is that relevant?

    If we count only your salary at macdo rate (to prepare the ground, put in the seeds, water, pick...), how much would you sell them to someone coming to buy at the gate of your garden ? How efficient are you ?

    I know what you are trying to say, it's just that it's completely wrong.

    You can already buy the fruits from all Asian countries. Sure they arrive here more expensive.

    They "arrive here more expensive" because they are taxed to hell and back because the Japanese farmers are too scared that people won't buy their already over-priced-for-what-it-is produce, so they whine to the government to tax the imported produce.

    They can sell dirt cheap. If they want to export the same fruits, they have to pick them one by one at the ideal maturation and place them in cases, place the cases in containers that keep temperature at 20 degrees during all the transport till your local Daiei... otherwise at arrival at Narita, it's already a big mount of half-frozen rotten fruit.

    Yeah, it's something so logistically difficult that it is done all over the world to be send all over the world.

    Why won't they do it here? Because they gush on about Japanese produce being the best and the safest, but are too scared to allow competition from the "inferior" and "dangerous" foreign products.

    Oh, and it doesn't end up "a big mount of half-frozen rotten fruit" either.

  • -1

    tmarie

    Not sure why macs is taking a bit here with salary. They're known to be great employees in north America for their pay and school support.

    The answer is simply "farmers know they can charge what they do and the public will buy it". Indeed a joke when you look at the subsidies they get, their methods. I find the apples here mealy. Having grown up in an apple region, Japan aples are subpar. So are the blueberries they sell.

    I don't need "perfect" fruit. Shame the shops haven't figured this out. I also stick to fruit from away now as I don't trust where it comes from in Japan. Bananas, kiwi, oranges, pineapple... Much cheaper than the local fruit.

  • -1

    Cos

    Not sure why macs is taking a bit here with salary. They're known to be great employees in north America for their pay and school support.

    Oh, 650 yen/hour is "great pay and school support" by NA standards now ? People take because a job is better than no job. Staff of big farms that cut costs are paid even less (it's a classic way to exploit illegal aliens, even legal kenshusei). My point is rock-bottom prices for food = rock-bottom pay for workers. Are those that ASK for the rock-bottom supply ready to work for peanuts themselves ?

    I know what you are trying to say, it's just that it's completely wrong.

    What is YOUR experience to affirm it's easy to slash costs ? My family has done the job during 100 years. They made from luxury produce (for the Queen of England, ROFL), for groceries, for fruit preserve factories. My generation didn't take over because the income remained miserable, and investment costs were skyrocketing. You can no longer find buyers accepting that you deliver fresh produce during 1 month while competitors found the way to extend on 5 months. So you relay on systematic watering, heating, cooling, shading, for what you can confess. And producing fresh fruits or veggies is still labor intensive. Do you imagine they have robots able to pick up delicately more than 20 kg of strawberries per hour ? I defy you to do over 5 kg cleanly, but good pickers do it 10 hours a day (ours were not paid, extraordinary community solidarity)... and supermarkets were asking us to price down with arguments like yours "that's done elsewhere". But no, the robots don't exist anywhere. They hire illegal migrants in crazy conditions in Southern Europe to produce the "cheap" supermarket fruits. Besides specialty stores or the coops for bobos sell token amounts of "local organic produce hand-picked by your neighbor Joe the farmer" but they make Isetan O-chugen boxes look like bargains... And even with tax money and the exploitation, the prices of cheap fruits have gone up, up, up, all over Europe for the last 10 years. In super-heroes North America ? Idem.

    And I gave up on American cherries. I thought with the strong yen, they'd be cheaper this year.

    But Probie will tell you Japanese bad guys have sur-taxed them...No. Scoop : they had a drought there. Buyers can prepare their wallets for all produce of that "continent", from all food worldwide as cereal rates go up. We'll go where for cheap imports then ?

    They "arrive here more expensive" because they are taxed to hell

    What rates ?

    http://www.customs.go.jp/english/tariff/2011/data/i201101e_08.htm

    As you can see, many are tax FREE for some major producers, or at low rates. For apples, one of the closest to "hell", that's 20% maxi, so if you really have a place where you can buy apples so much cheaper than here, 20% of that low price is not much, do your direct import.

  • 0

    gaijinfo

    10X tastier

    How exactly does one measure taste?

  • 0

    Serrano

    Hey, my local yaoyasan just got back from his o-bon trip to his hometown - he needed money for that!

  • 1

    VicMOsaka

    Most domestically grown fruit is labour intensive but very high in quality, therefore it is understandable that prices are expensive. However, in the case of imported goods in Japan, someone is really creaming it. Export prices for goods to Japan are increadibly cheap. Have you ever noticed that Kiwi Fruit is always around the same price at every supermarket? In NZ, they feed Kiwi fruit to the cows. It is time that Japan sold the inferior fruits by weight for people who might want to make jams etc. or who don't care if the fruit is a different shape or undersize. I wonder how many countries sell fruit 1 piece at a time.

  • 2

    commanteer

    Odd. I've imported 1000s of containers of fresh produce into Japan, and the markets here are reasonably open. One big difference in price that's not mentioned here is that Americans simply don't appreciate fresh fruits the way Japanese and other Asians do. It's in the comments above: "and apple for Y300 is crazy" and "it's just an apple."

    For comparison, try this: "$30 for a bottle of wine is crazy. It's just grape juice."

    Americans are happy to pay ridiculous prices for wine of questionable value, yet not willing to pay a penny more for a well-grown apple. The values are simply different. Aside from that, most Americans don't care whether their "fresh" food comes from next door or from another continent. Yes, there is a local food movement, but those people are a minority. In Japan, you'll note that even a fast food joint like Mosburger will tell you where the lettuce and tomato on your hamburger are from, and even the name of the farmer.

    And of course, as said above, cheap American food prices depend on illegal immigration and agricultural methods that emphasize efficiency and profit over taste and nutritional value. In the US, good fresh food is a niche business. In Japan, it's more widely appreciated, and people are willing to pay for it.

    So far as the price of cherries, that has less to do with the exchange rate that with harvest conditions and weather - as with all agriculture. An unawareness of this just shows how unaware people are about the basics of food. As one US strawberry farmer said..."We're not making Hondas here - every year is different."

  • 1

    Aliasis

    My supermarket also has apples for 250 yen. One apple. It's absurd. The only thing comparable to where I'm from (midwest America) is maybe the bananas, but the bananas here are small and squishy.

  • 1

    y3chome

    because they know there are stupid customers who will pay that premium.

  • 0

    Masa Yatake

    I partly agree with the question.

    First, some fruits are unfit for international trade, since fruits are soft and vulnerable. Additionally, Government of Japan is imposing tariff and non-tariff barriers like phytosanitary. As you can see at a supermarket, oranges and bananas are sold at reasonable prices, even though they are unable to grow under Japanese climate.

    Second, Japanese agriculture is labor- and material-intensive because of scarcity of farmland. Taking into account that Japanese farmer tend to take advantage of flat land to use as rice paddy, we can understand that fruit farmers are facing more rigorous condition. At the same time, wage level in Japan is considerably high. Therefore, in general, non-tradable agricultural products unavoidably become expensive.

    Third, Japanese people consume less fruit than people in other nations. In economic theory, less demand leads to higher price. However, in combination with the second reason I mentioned earlier, fruit is considered as a kind of luxurious goods, rather than staple foods. Also, you can find this fact when Japanese people purchase fruit as a gift for patients or ancestors' spirits.

    For these reasons, some of fruits in Japan tend to be expensive.

  • 0

    Serrano

    Hey, how much would American cherries be in Japan if the yen/dollar rate went back to 240 yen to the dollar like it was just over 20 years ago?

  • 0

    JapanGal

    1. Those who complain of the taste of fruit and veggies in Japan, should spend some time in America. Even in citrus country in Florida, the grape fruits etc. are terrible. Why are the ones imported from Florida here so tasty? I think the Japanese send out taste testers, then purchase whole trees outright for the fruits on those they find acceptable.

    2. ¥300 for an apple is fine with me. Cut it into thirds. No reason for gorging on an entire big apple.

    Savor the flavors is my opinion. Get thin.

  • 0

    Livvie

    I always ask myself this question whenever I try to buy celery. Why is celery so expensive here? Why on earth do they only sell them in stalks of ONE or TWO?? Why can't I buy a bunch of celery like at any other North American supermarket?

  • -1

    lucabrasi

    Why is celery so expensive here? Why on earth do they only sell them in stalks of ONE or TWO??

    Possibly because no-one eats it. Try picking up a pumpkin at a reasonable price in your average UK supermarket.

    • Moderator

      Readers, the topic is fruit, not vegetables.

  • 0

    Nessie

    Peaches and nectarines - two of my favorite summer fruits - seem very expensive this year

    Ususually cheap in Hokkaido. This may be because of an influx of peaches from radiation-stricken parts of Honshu, which are famous for peaches.

  • 0

    Nessie

    Americans are happy to pay ridiculous prices for wine of questionable value, yet not willing to pay a penny more for a well-grown apple.

    American supermarkets offer a dozen apple varieties at various prices, including expensive heirloom varieties. Japanese supermarkets offer expensive Fuji, or . . .nothing. Sometimes Tsugaru or Sun Fuji, but the selection is pathetic and the prices are high. The apples in Japan are overpriced, sweet, watery and lacking any tartness or distinction.

  • 0

    Nessie

    Americans are happy to pay ridiculous prices for wine of questionable value, yet not willing to pay a penny more for a well-grown apple.

    Just to add, this is an instructive comparison, because wine in Japan is available at all price points, from 500-yen drinkable Seicomart offerings to 30,000-yen pedigreed wines. There's no such range of apples.

  • -6

    BertieWooster

    Mangos are not expensive in Okinawa. Especially the slightly misshapen ones.

    Pineapples are cheap too.

    So, here's what you do.

    Wazz up your pineapples and mangos in a food processor. Put the liquid in ice moulds (available at ¥100 stores) and freeze it.

    Lasts for ages and great in drinks or eaten half melted.

  • 0

    Jaime Cordon

    Firstly, McDonald's is not food, so you can't really compare.

    Prices for fruit and veg at the supermarkets in Japan are way cheaper than in Australia and the quality in Japan far surpasses that in Australia. Those expensive melons are the musk melons which are picked for their beauty (I personally think it's silly). You can buy regular melons for a reasonable price, which are usually right next to the musk melons at the supermarket.

    Japan also has huge fresh produce markets where you can pick out great fresh veggies and fruit for cheap prices if you know where to look - and like BertieWooster said, if you wish to eat produce out of season - freeze it.

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