Oishii Berry’s Omakase Strawberry is a strawberry unlike any other berry. The company website explains: They are “an experience like no other.” They are “so pure, so intense, and so sublime” that they are “transformative.” They are also, at a minimum, $5 each, unless you want the larger ones, which are $6.25 apiece. They made their U.S. debut in 2018, mostly inside New York City restaurants. But soon the berries will be everywhere: The company recently raised $50 million in series A funding, which it will use to grow the rare fruits at scale.
The Omakase strawberries were previously found only in the foothills of the Japanese Alps in winter. They have twice as much sugar as the average American strawberry, an “airier texture,” and “unexposed seeds.” They are “creamy,” and also profoundly aromatic: “If you leave a single berry unwrapped in a closed room for a few minutes,” the Spectator promises, “the room will be full of strawberry fragrance on your return.”
These berries are grown in New Jersey, not Japan, where there are vertically farmed, indoors, using no pesticides, in New Jersey under very specific conditions that exactly mimic their natural Alpine habitat, including the wind speed. But that’s only the beginning: Oishii also uses a “proprietary indoor natural pollination method conducted by bees,” explains the website Food Navigator. (“Machine learning” is also involved, somehow.) Their working conditions are reportedly excellent. “These bees are very happy; they live in harmony with our farmers and robots,” Koga has promised.
Koga likes to compare his strawberries to Tesla. Tesla has quickly moved from manufacturing niche cars into the automotive mainstream. Likewise, Oishii berries is an ultraluxury item, but that is not the long-term plan: anyone can buy these strawberries in their local supermarket soon.”
Picture: Luxury fruit, in its natural habitat. Photo: Doan Ly/Oishii
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