Why Is Seafood So Expensive? (11 Reasons Why)

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Maisie Hughes

Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

Seafood is a delicious type of meat that many people enjoy, especially since there are so many types of seafood to try. You can also utilize seafood in various recipes that can satisfy any foodie’s dreams.

If you wanted to buy seafood but saw how much it costs, you may be wondering why seafood is so expensive. I looked up the facts, and here is what I discovered!

Why Is Seafood So Expensive?

Seafood is expensive because it’s hard to catch, transport, maintain, and prepare. Moreover, farm-raised seafood is difficult for farmers to raise. Additionally, there is a low supply despite the high demand for seafood. Plus, some types of seafood like oysters and lobster are more expensive because they are rare.

Are you still wondering what other aspects can impact the cost of seafood? I made a list of common factors below, so keep reading!

1. Seafood Is Difficult To Keep Fresh

Generally, seafood is more expensive than other types of meat because it is harder to keep fresh.

That said, seafood often spoils much faster than different kinds of meat, such as poultry or beef.

Normally, the seafood begins to change the way it tastes within 24 hours, making it hard for suppliers to keep their seafood supplies fresh.

Moreover, this is why fishers and other suppliers try to move their caught fish as quickly as possible.

Additionally, seafood is more likely to carry bacteria, which can multiply quickly if the fishers do not move their seafood fast enough.

2. Supply And Demand

One of the main reasons seafood is expensive is because there is a high demand for seafood, but there is only so much available.

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Further, harvesting seafood heavily relies on the seafood breeding themselves and the fishers being able to find the seafood.

Additionally, pollution and overfishing are huge contributors to why seafood is costly. Therefore, the supply of seafood is further becoming limited while the demand for seafood stays high.

Moreover, seafood may not likely get cheaper anytime soon. Also, most statistics find that the demand for seafood will likely double by 2050, meaning seafood could get more expensive.

3. It Is Hard To Get Seafood

Unlike other farm animals, it is tough to get many forms of seafood since most seafood is taken from the ocean.

However, while some fish may be grown on farms, most of the seafood we find today is from the ocean.

Generally, fishers have to go far into the ocean to look for seafood and throw large nets to catch the seafood.

That said, this is an incredibly tiring, time-consuming, and dangerous task, which is why seafood can cost so much.

4. Logistics

It is not easy to transport seafood, especially on land. Transporting seafood, especially seafood caught from the wild, means you have to transport it from a boat first, then on land or air.

Usually, the issue with transporting seafood is that seafood has a short shelf life. Therefore, transporting seafood must be an extremely fast and efficient process to avoid waste.

Moreover, that is why areas with near bodies of water tend to have much cheaper seafood. Typically, the further away you are from an ocean, the more expensive the seafood will be.

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5. Fishing Damages The Ecosystem

Unfortunately, catching wild fish ruins the ecosystem for various reasons.

For instance, boats and fishing nets can wreck coral reefs, and fishing can severely deplete certain seafood species.

Therefore, wild-caught fish are usually more expensive than farm-raised fish.

That said, people are beginning to lessen how often they catch fish, further decreasing the supply of seafood worldwide.

6. Healthier Food Is More Expensive

6. Healthier Food Is More Expensive

Typically, seafood is healthier than other types of meat because of the nutrients seafood has. With that, healthy food is often in high demand, contributing to seafood prices.

7. Farming Fish Is Hard

Currently, around 50% of the world’s seafood supply is farm-raised to avoid catching fish in the wild. However, farm-raised fish can still be expensive because it is hard to farm fish.

Firstly, farmed fish must be housed in huge ponds, lakes, or tanks, and fish cannot be kept in cramped conditions because they can get bacterial infections.

Moreover, farmers have to mimic the fish’s natural environment conditions, meaning the farmers have to regularly clean, check, adjust, etc., the waters to keep the fish healthy.

8. Rare Fish Species

Anything rare tends to be more costly, which will apply to seafood. For instance, lobsters and caviar are much harder to find, making them more expensive than most kinds of seafood.

9. Specific Ways To Prepare Seafood

Processing seafood is more difficult than processing other types of meat.

Typically, seafood must be sent to specific factories that know how to cut and gut seafood since some butchers do not know how to prepare seafood.

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10. Cooking Processes

If you order seafood at a restaurant and notice that it is expensive, it could be because of how the seafood was prepared. Usually, it is more difficult to cook fish than other types of meat.

Some fish variants require a particular way to be prepared and cooked.

For instance, the pufferfish has to be prepared in a specific way by trained chefs to properly remove the toxins from the pufferfish meat.

Of course, not all seafood will cost nearly as much as pufferfish.

However, most types of seafood still require a level of skill and attention to be cooked, which makes ordering seafood more expensive.

11. Fishermen Have Different Subsidies

Normally, fishers do not get the same subsidies as other farmers, but the cost of fisherman licenses and documents is very expensive.

Therefore, most fishers raise their seafood prices to offset the costs.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why oysters are so expensive, why sablefish is so expensive, and why salmon is so expensive.


Seafood is usually expensive because seafood is hard to catch, keep fresh, prepare, and more. Moreover, certain variants of seafood are rare, making the price of seafood go up.


  • Maisie Hughes

    Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

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