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Imitation fruit? World’s costliest grape sells for cheap in Vietnam

By Thi Ha   July 23, 2022 | 06:00 pm PT
Imitation fruit? World’s costliest grape sells for cheap in Vietnam
Ruby Roman, the world’s most expensive grape once sold for VND11 million (US$468) per bunch in Vietnam, now sells at less than one-tenth the price. Their authenticity is being questioned.

Many fruit shops in Hanoi and HCMC are selling Ruby Roman grapes, exclusive to the Japanese prefecture of Ishikawa, at VND550,000-700,000 ($23.4-29.8) a bunch that weighs 400-700 grams.

The volume of Ruby Roman grapes imported to Vietnam used to be very small, given its very high price. But, for more than a month now, the Vietnamese market has been flooded with grapes sold as Ruby Roman.

Hoa, the owner of a fruit shop in Hanoi, said she had just imported 10 boxes of Ruby Roman grapes and they sold out quickly.

Loan, a fruit wholesaler in HCMC, has imported four batches of Ruby Roman grapes since mid-June. Each batch had about 150 bunches and all of them have been sold, she said.

A box of grapes being sold as Ruby Roman in the Vietnamese market are kept in a box meant for Queen Nina grapes. Photo provided by the seller

A box of grapes being sold as Ruby Roman in the Vietnamese market are kept in a box meant for Queen Nina grapes. Photo provided by the seller

Many shops in Vietnam assert that they are selling Ruby Roman, the Japanese grape variety, but grown in Taiwan instead of Ishikawa.

However, veteran businesspeople say that the grapes marketed as Ruby Roman in Vietnam could actually be similar looking ones imported from Taiwan and mainland China.

Hanh, manager of an imported fruit shop chain in HCMC, said the grapes introduced as Ruby Roman are similar to the authentic one in terms of appearance, but different in terms of sweetness and size.

Nguyen Ngoc Huyen, CEO of Mia Group, which used to officially import Ruby Roman grapes from Japan, said some shops in Vietnam have imported Queen Nina grapes from Taiwan and sold them as Ruby Roman.

Ruby Roman grapes grown in Ishikawa, central Japan, first appeared in the market in 2008.

At an auction in 2020, one bunch of Ruby Roman grapes sold for US$12,000, about $400 per grape.

Each Ruby Roman grape must weigh at least 20 grams and have a sugar content of at least 18 percent, it was reported then.

 
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