A bunch of premium table grapes fetched 1.1 million yen ($9,910) Tuesday in the year's first auction at a Kanazawa wholesale market, slightly lower than the record 1.11 million yen registered last year.

In Japan, it is customary for bidders to auction off the first crop of certain food products at a higher than market price. The products are then used for display, sold later at normal cost or served free to people.

Supermarket chain operator Yamanari Shoji Co. in the central Japan prefecture of Ishikawa purchased the latest Ruby Roman grapes after a wholesaler made a successful bid for the bunch, which was among the batch of 36 auctioned off at the market.

The latest bid marks the fourth straight year the price has surpassed the 1 million mark.

Ruby Roman, developed by the Ishikawa prefectural government over a period of 14 years, is known for its high sugar content and some of the grapes reach the size of golf balls, according to a local agricultural cooperative.

The cooperative expects 26,000 bunches to be shipped this year.