A pair of premium melons in Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido fetched 3 million yen ($23,550) at the year's first auction on Thursday, exceeding last year's winning bid by 10 percent.

The auction record for a pair of Yubari melons, a signature product of the city of Yubari, was 5 million yen in 2019. The winning bid at the first auction last year was 2.7 million yen.

Photo shows winning bidder Kiyomichi Noda (R) and Yubari's mayor posing with premium melons in Sapporo on May 26, 2022. (Kyodo)

This year's successful bidder was Hokuyupack Co., a Yubari-based company that sells and packs fruit and vegetables. The firm plans to hold a free tasting event for melons including the pair on June 4 and 5 in Yubari.

Kiyomichi Noda, the company's president, said the unique taste of the melons makes them "worth" the price.

A total of 2,721 melons were auctioned on Thursday, with Yubari's agricultural cooperative attributing the year's harvest to good sunlight.

According to the local cooperative, 98 local farmers plan to ship a total of 3,438 tons of melons worth around 2.03 billion yen this year.

Premium fruit often fetch very high prices at first auctions in Japan, with buyers using successful bids for promotional purposes.