January 6, 2023
TOKYO – A 212-kilogram bluefin tuna caught off Oma, Aomori Prefecture, sold for ¥36.04 million in the first auction of the year at the Toyosu seafood market in Tokyo on Thursday.
The bid was significantly higher than the top price paid in 2021 or 2022, when demand for tuna in the food service industry fell due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, a total of 1,176 fresh and frozen tuna, brought in from ports across Japan, were lined up at the market’s seafood wholesale building in Tokyo’s Koto Ward, and 230 fresh tuna were auctioned off in about 15 minutes.
The Oma tuna was auctioned off to Yamayuki, a seafood wholesaler based in the ward that made the highest bid for the third year running.
“Things have been pretty gloomy lately, but this is good news that symbolizes the gradual recovery from the pandemic,” Yamayuki President Yukitaka Yamaguchi said.
The tuna was to be served at Ginza Onodera’s sushi restaurants later on the same day.
In prior years, the highest price at the New Year’s auction has often shot up amid intense competition between buyers. At the first auction held in 2019 after the market was relocated from Tsukiji to Toyosu, the price reached ¥333.6 million, marking the highest bid since records began to be kept in 1999.
However, restaurants closures amid the pandemic caused the highest going price to crater to ¥20.84 million in 2021 and further drop to ¥16.88 million in 2022. Prices now, though, appear to be recovering as the food service industry picks back up to speed, according to market sources.