Update: The blog Food, Sake, Tokyo has the numbers for this year’s auction. Perhaps most interesting, per kilogram the first tuna of the year wasn’t the most expensive fish. A 168-kg fish sold for $382 per kilo (~$64,000 total) compared to $305 per kg for the first fish of the year.
In an unexpected turn, the first Bluefin Tuna auctioned at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, sold for approximately $70,000, a dramatic drop from the record breaking $1.8 million. The buyer, Kiyoshi Kimura, is the same man who won the auction in 2011, 2012, and 2013. This is a radical change from previous years and may symbolize a shift back to actual market value, rather than “auction-as-performance” to drive up the demand for Bluefin Tuna.
It should be noted that even the $70,000 price tag is unaccountably high. The price for Bluefin Tuna in Japan peaked at $34 per kilogram in 1990 and has been in decline (with occasional fluctuations) since. At that price, a 350 kilogram fish would only sell for ~$12,000. This year’s first fish appears to have weighed 230 kilograms.
Apparently there’s been an increase in supply of farmed foreign tuna.
But it may represent a decline in the social prestige placed on the first tuna and/or a decline in business expense accounts.