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Why prices of Japanese strawberries are so high in Singapore?

What factors decide the extremely high prices asked for Japanese strawberries in Singapore?

Kumamoto, one of the leading agricultural regions in central Kyushu, Japan, is best known for its fruits and vegetables as well as livestock. According to Mr. Ishino of the Kumamoto Prefectural Sales Channel Expansion Business Division of the Kumamoto Prefecture Office, extra care is taken to ensure the fruit’s quality at every step of the way, when it comes to producing Japanese fruits.

During picking, each individual fruit “goes through a very stringent selection process by the human eye, before getting packed and sent off for delivery”, Ishino shared. “Factors such as the size, shape, and whether the product has any bruises, are taken into consideration.” In the case of “non-standard” products (colour, deformation, other flaws), the fruits are usually returned.

“It’s certainly true that Japanese fruit can be more expensive than fruit produced and sold in Singapore. This is as it is imported on planes from Japanese farms 5,200 km away, all while maintaining a certain standard of freshness," explained Ishino.

The price also takes into account the huge amount of time and effort invested by strawberry farmers; about 1,700 hours per year per 1,000 m2. At farms, strawberries are carefully monitored to ensure that they are growing well, with the optimal type of fertiliser and right temperature. The strawberries are subsequently sorted by hand according to colour and shape, and then carefully packed to prevent them from being crushed.

The price of the strawberries really depends on the time of the year, with the strawberry season generally occurring between December to March. For supermarkets in Japan, a packet of strawberries typically costs between 600 to 1200 yen (about S$7 to S$14).


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