Japan’s famously expensive fruit items, particularly apples that retail for US$17, have found a new market in growingly affluent China.

Prized all over Asia as ‘status fruit’ usually given away as flamboyant presents, Japanese growers of luxury apples have found an emerging market for their high-priced wares among the nouveau riche of China.

Apples from Katayama which produces the top “Japan’s Best” brand is selling its near perfect fruit at US$17 each in Beijing and Shanghai – about 100 times the price of an average Chinese apple. Apples that have dragon designs and Chinese characters specially impregnated on their skins are retailing for more than US$100.

Already Japan is famous for producing US$200 square watermelons, musk melons that fly off the shelves for US$300 and strawberries that retail for US$2 each. The emphasis, said Japanese food writer Yuko Suzuki, is on perfect presentation rather than taste.