Why is salmon so expensive?

Published Categorized as Fish Or Seafood

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Whenever you think of a seafood dish, there is an incredibly high chance that it will involve salmon. It is one of the most popular kinds of seafood available, and for a good reason too. It is delicious, healthy, and very versatile which can make it a very fun ingredient to cook with.

Salmon can appear as the main act of your meal, or it can be served inside pasta parcels, tortellini, and be enjoyed as more of an enhancement to a meal rather than the main focus. No matter what you use it for, shopping for salmon can be quite difficult. The difficulty comes from the pricing being very high and expensive, so it is best you know what you are paying for and why.

Table of Contents

Why is salmon so expensive?

What factors determine the price of salmon?

There are many economic factors that determine the pricing of almost everything in the world. This is most easily seen with the production of something. The pricing is usually based on the price of the raw goods, the hours that are taken to make the product, and then a markup to make it a sustainable business idea.

The same thing goes for the procuration of salmon as it must be caught, prepared, stored, and then sold. These can all be quite expensive, so the people that collect salmon must charge a higher price, which means a fishmonger or any other retailer have to pay a higher price too which ultimately concluded with you, the consumer, also paying a dearer price.

Salmon is difficult to catch

As mentioned, a large contributor to the price of something is the time which it takes to acquire. A lot of the process for selling salmon is held up by the amount of time it takes to catch a salmon. There is no predetermined time that a salmon takes to be caught, and it can take even the most experienced of fishermen way longer than expected to catch salmon. Not only does the timeframe vary, but it is also very hard work.

why is salmon expensive

The conditions are often cold, wet, and unpleasant, not to mention that they are also on a boat which is a very niche thing to find employees for. All of this combined means that the workers who catch the salmon are paid a very good wage, as they rightly should be, but this directly correlates to the price the salmon is sold at.

Overfishing prevention methods

As a second part to the previous point, salmon fishing cannot be automated or made any easier as there are restrictions and laws in place to prevent overfishing. This is because salmon is an essential species that are critical to maintaining all the local fauna and flora that surrounds their habitat.

Any overfishing of salmon could lead to them being extinct, similar to want is happening with a lot of other fish, and this extinction would prove bad for the ocean environment, which is why there are laws set in place to stop this.

The cost of catching salmon

Not only is the cost of salmon catching salmon made up of the wages for the workers but there is also a lot of equipment you need to buy and own. The boat is one of the more expensive pieces of equipment you will need and even after the fishing has taken place, a storage facility will be needed to store the fresh salmon in the perfect conditions so that it stays high quality.

The cost of both the boat and storage facility will most likely be a monthly expense for any company, so they will need to make enough profit in order to pay for this.

Salmon is in high demand

This is another very common reason for an increase in the value of something and is seen all the time in basic economics. When something is in high demand, there are two reasons for an increase in price. The first reason will be that it is selling quicker, and is becoming harder to get ahold of.

The second reason is that when something is in high demand, people are still likely willing to pay for the increased price. more often than not, a company will gladly increase their prices because they know for a fact that consumers will still willingly pay this price. Both of these are often used together, though, to increase the final price of something. In this case, salmon is being fished more often meaning fishermen will be wanting to get out there and fish while they still can, and they also know that big retailers such as fishmongers and supermarkets are still willing to pay increased prices for their goods.

After all of this, as the consumer is the last in the chain of production and selling, the price will ultimately be a lot higher than it initially was and you will be stuck paying more. While this demand is high, it is also steadily increasing, which is why prices are always changing.

A healthy profit margin for businesses

The chain of production and selling has many layers, it is similar to a hierarchy. At the very top of the chain is the procurer or manufacturer of goods. This person or company will then be looking to sell it to a retailer. This retailer will pay a good price, as the procurer needs to make a profit.

After paying for the goods, the retailers themselves will also be wanting to make a profit, off of goods that they just spent a typical market value on. This means that the only way they can make a profit is by selling the goods at a higher price than they bought them for. At the very end of the chain is the consumer who will most likely be paying at least double for the goods than what the first link in the chain did.

This can easily be exampled by looking at expensive salmon. For instance, the fishing company may be spending something around $5 per pound of salmon, whereas a consumer may be spending something around the mark of $10-$15 per pound of salmon because of inflation.

Species of salmon

Another very big contributor to the price of salmon is the species it is. Steak is notorious for this as different cuts and different types of steak can be more expensive than others. Salmon can come in a lot of different species such as;

  • Chinook salmon/ king salmon
  • Coho salmon/Silver salmon
  • Humpback salmon/Pink salmon
  • Red salmon
  • Atlantic salmon
  • Chum/Dog salmon
  • Pacific salmon

Some of these are considered to be better than the others in quality, or they may be harder to catch.

Types of salmon

As mentioned, there are many different types of salmon. These are not just limited to the different species of salmon, but also include how the salmon is raised and caught. For instance, there are wild salmon and farmed salmon which both have different expenses, pros, and cons.

Wild salmon

Wild salmon is caught by fishermen out at sea in the salmon species’ location. This is then caught without nets, as most regions have laws against this. Wild salmon is considered far better than farmed salmon, which is why it is more expensive. Not only can this be told by the flavor of the salmon, but it is also apparent in the nutrients as farmed salmon is nowhere near as healthy as wild salmon.

Wild salmon is far better as they have a naturally balanced diet and have plenty of exercise. If a wild salmon is hungry, it must go hunting for food which gives it a source of exercise. Because of this, they end up being less fatty and have more nutrients. Wild salmon taste fishier compared to swordfish taste.

Wild salmon, and wild fish, in general, are always going to be of higher quality than their farmed counterpart and this is why they are more expensive. Some people argue that this is well worth the price as they are raised in a pristine wild salmon habitat that is completely natural and surrounded by local wildlife instead of being on a farm. Wild-caught fish is a lot more expensive than farmed fish, but it is worth the price difference.

Farmed salmon

Some people will tell you to avoid farmed salmon and not buy farmed salmon. This is understandable as it is of lower quality but it is also more affordable. There is nothing wrong with buying farmed salmon if you cannot afford to buy fresh wild salmon. Farming salmon can be incredibly expensive as a salmon will eat more fish than it will produce, meaning the cost of feeding your salmon can get very high and maybe not be entirely worth the payout, which is why these prices can spike too.

Salmon that is typically farmed will also not have as much space as it normally would grow, which will end up making the salmon smaller and less worth selling. Another issue with farmed salmon is that a farmer will try to make the salmon grow as quick as possible so that they can sell it quickly, which ends up with the salmon overeating and not getting enough exercise so the final product will be incredibly fatty and not as healthy as wild salmon.

Farmed Atlantic salmon is also very difficult to produce at salmon farms as it is prone to sea lice and other diseases. Salmon farms also spend a lot of money on a single fish and would lose a lot of money if any of their salmon die. Salmon prices differ from each farm, but if you can afford it then the best option is to buy wild salmon as it tastes delicious. Salmon are keystone species that are essential for the underwater environment, so farming them takes away from the naturally balanced ecosystem.

How much should salmon cost?

Now that you understand all of the factors that determine the price of salmon, you can be a bit more cautious and make sure shops are not trying to overcharge you…too much. Or perhaps if you see salmon below a certain price you will now know to stock up when you can. The average price you should pay for wild salmon while shopping is about $15 per pound. However, going straight to the source and buying it at a fish market can significantly reduce the cost. As well as buying canned fish, such as salmon. Wild salmon in a can is not as fresh as salmon fillets you can buy but it can certainly be tasty and convenient while also being a little cheaper.

Nutritional value of salmon

While I did not mention it earlier, another reason salmon prices can be so high is that it is insanely healthy food to eat on a regular basis. Not only is it delicious but adding lots of it to your diet is actually quite a good idea. It contains fish oils and fatty acids that promote good health. These are nutrients such as Omega-3 which protects your heart from cholesterol build-up.

In the right balanced meal, served with vegetables and carbs, you can eat salmon every day if you choose to. It is recommended that you eat a fish like this at least 2 times a week but it is not unhealthy to eat it daily as long as you get other nutrients from other places such as side dishes and other daily meals. When it comes to having salmon daily, it is important that you are eating wild salmon. This is because farmed salmon is a lot fattier which is proven to be unhealthy if eaten in too large quantities.

The only issue with eating lots of salmon is it would spike your mercury intake, although this is still such a small issue as you would need to consume salmon daily for years to reach a lethal level of mercury.

Is it worth splashing out on wild salmon?

Excuse the pun, but if you can afford to buy wild salmon each time you want to eat it then it is absolutely worth the price. The difference in quality is immediately recognizable once you see the two side by side and taste them. Not only will your salmon taste nicer but it will also be a lot healthier for you. The farmed salmon is overfed which leads to a high-fat content within the fish which can lower quality but also make the fish unhealthier. Wild salmon have to exercise and chase their own food which leads to a nice balance and good meat that is not too fatty.

What is a good price for salmon?

The average price for salmon per pound is anywhere between $12 and $17. So roughly you should pay $15 per pound of wild salmon, although this price is constantly changing and is never set in stone.