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Japan: Grapes with messages on their skin to go on sale in the fall

Grapes can now have messages and images on their skin thanks to sunlight-shielding stickers. They  are expected to go on sale in the fall. The technique was developed last fall by central Japan's Yamanashi Prefecture, the biggest grape producer in the country, to promote sales of the fruit.

Transparent stickers bearing messages or images such as a heart or Mt Fuji can block off the sunlight and leave whitish marks on the skin if they are attached to a grape before it ripens and begins to color, according to the prefecture's Fruit Tree Experiment Station and Industrial Technology Center.

European varieties of red grape such as Sunny Dolce are best suited to the process as their deep color shows up the images more clearly. The grapes' sugar content or quality is not affected by the sticker, the center said.

In addition to Mt Fuji, Japan's highest mountain which straddles Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, samples have been made featuring the Chinese character meaning longevity or celebration and "TOKYO2020" in reference to the upcoming Olympics and Paralympics with nine grapes each bearing a relevant letter or number.

The Yamanashi government expects message-bearing grapes will be used as gifts and it aims to sell them to cake shops and restaurants on an individual basis, rather than the conventional approach of selling them by the bunch.

Some grape farmers separately told they want to put their farm's trademarks on the skin, according to the prefecture. The distinctive grapes are expected to hit shelves possibly in September and go into full circulation next year.

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