Why is Salmon So Expensive? Know the Facts

December 12, 2020

Why is Salmon So Expensive? Know the Facts

There is no doubt that salmon is one of the most popular fish to eat. Fresh caught salmon grilled or baked is delicious! It’s also quite healthy for you compared to other meats. But why is salmon so expensive?

Salmon is expensive because it is relatively difficult to catch compared to other species of fish, and it is in high demand due to its popularity. The most desirable species of salmon can only be caught in limited numbers with fishing rods and reels due to legislation to prevent overfishing.

But there are additional reasons why salmon can be very expensive. In this article, we’ll go over exactly why salmon is so expensive – from the stringent regulations that are placed on harvesting the fish to the dwindling numbers worldwide. 

Get ready to learn why salmon is so expensive in great detail!

All The Reasons Why Salmon is So Expensive

As we mentioned above, the primary reason why salmon is so expensive is that it is relatively difficult to catch compared to other species of fish. But there are several other reasons why salmon is expensive. We’ll go into detail below!

Salmon is Difficult to Catch

Probably the biggest reason why salmon is so expensive is that it is a difficult fish to catch. If you’ve ever attempted catching king salmon by trolling or bead fishing, you’ll know that it is not easy. You need to have all the right equipment, including an expensive boat built for salmon fishing.

We’ve spent plenty of days out on the water doing everything correctly only to not even get a bite. While we’re not gonna say we have the same level of skill or equipment as professional fishermen, it is still not an easy fish to catch.

No Nets are Allowed

Part of the reason salmon is so difficult for professional fishermen to catch is that most regions have laws against using nets. This means that professionals have to catch salmon the same way you or I would – by fishing for them with a rod and reel.

This is much more inefficient compared to using a massive net that can catch hundreds of fish all at once! Most other species of fish allow this, so in order to entice fishermen to fish for salmon, they have to get paid well for it. This drives up the price of salmon.

Wild Salmon are Noticeably Better than Farm

Fresh salmon sashimi in rose shape

Another big reason why salmon are so expensive is that you can tell the difference between wild salmon and farm salmon. Farm salmon does not taste nearly as good! It’s also not as healthy as wild salmon.

Since farm salmon is raised in a pen, the fish don’t get nearly as much exercise as wild salmon. The farmers are also trying to grow the fish as fast as possible, so they feed the fish excessively. Both of these factors result in salmon that is loaded with fat and not a ton of nutrients.

Wild salmon have to hunt for their food as well as migrate many miles to feed and mate. This makes them much leaner and healthier to eat. They also have a much more varied and natural diet which in turn makes their meat healthier. Not to mention better tasting!

Demand far Exceeds Supply

But probably the biggest reason why salmon is so expensive is that demand for wild salmon exceeds supply. There are just way more people that want to buy and eat wild salmon than there are salmon on the market.

It’s a classic economics problem. The more demand you have without a corresponding increase in supply will only drive prices up! There are also emerging regions and classes in the world that are now able to afford more expensive salmon.

Salmon is becoming much more popular in China, and due to China’s exploding middle class, millions of people are now able to afford salmon.

How Much Should Salmon Cost?

Now that you know why salmon is so expensive, you’re probably wondering how much should salmon cost? Salmon should cost between $12 and $17 per pound depending on where you buy it. 

We recommend buying wild salmon from a local fish market or bulk savings store such as Costco. Costco’s salmon is always of high quality and a great choice.

Is it Good to Eat a Lot of Salmon?

Since salmon tastes so good, you might be wondering if it is good to eat a lot of salmon. As with any diet question, the answer is that it depends. If you only are eating salmon and not other types of food such as vegetables and carbs, it may be unhealthy.

But compared to other meats, salmon is very healthy. So the short answer is yes, it is good to eat a lot of salmon as your main source of protein. Fish contains many fatty acids that promote good health. These acids, such as Omega-3, protect your heart from cholesterol build up and have been proven to improve your health.

Can I Eat Salmon Every Day?

Salmon Sushi on Black Tray

Along with our above answer, yes you can eat salmon every day – as long as you accompany it with vegetables and healthy carbs. Compared to other forms of meat, salmon is very healthy. 

So if you have the budget and resources to eat it frequently, go for it! Just try to avoid farmed salmon that contains much more fat than wild salmon.

What Happens if I Eat Too Much Salmon?

As we mentioned above, it is pretty hard to eat too much salmon as long as you are balancing your intake with other food types like vegetables and carbs. The one issue you may need to pay attention to is your mercury intake.

Salmon does tend to have higher mercury levels than other smaller fish because it eats smaller fish that have mercury in them. But the levels of mercury should be relatively low either way and not something you need to worry about. 

You would most likely have to eat a ridiculous amount of salmon for many many years in order to reach dangerous mercury levels.

Is Wild Salmon Worth the Price?

As we mentioned above, wild salmon is much more expensive than farmed salmon due to its better flavor and nutritional content. But is wild salmon worth the price? We think so, especially if you aren’t eating salmon all the time. 

We’ll always opt to spend a little more on food if it tastes better and is better for us. You can’t put a price on your health! And a few more dollars a pound for a salmon steak is worth it in our opinion.

What is the Healthiest Salmon to Buy?

The healthiest salmon to buy is wild king salmon. Wild king salmon has the lowest fat content compared to other species of salmon which makes it healthier. The only issue with king salmon you have to be aware of is that it may have high mercury levels than other species of salmon. 

This is simply because king salmon grows bigger and older than other species, which means it has more time to collect mercury from other fish that it eats. But the mercury levels in king salmon are usually low enough where this shouldn’t be an issue.

What Are King Salmon?

Chinook Salmon also known as King Salmon

King salmon are an anadromous fish (which means they are born in freshwater and live in saltwater) that live primarily in the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. They’ve been introduced to several other parts of the world, including New Zealand and Russia. 

King salmon can be identified by their silvery sides and dark green or blue backs. They also have many small black spots on their tails and the upper half of their bodies. They are differentiated from coho salmon due to the darkness of their gums.

If you want to identify a king salmon vs a coho salmon, the easiest way is to look inside its mouth. Light gums mean it is a coho salmon, black gums mean it is a king salmon.

Chinook salmon live for one to eight years in the ocean before returning back to the river they were born in to spawn and lay their eggs. Once they enter fresh water to begin the spawn migration, they stop eating and their bodies begin to transform. 

Their bodies turn red to brown and their muscles begin to decompose. When this happens they become not very good to eat. Once their spawning migration has begun they won’t return to the ocean ever again.

King salmon usually grow up to an average of 20 to 25 lbs. The king salmon sports fishing record is 97 lbs and was caught on the Kenai River in Alaska. Chinook salmon enjoy eating small crustaceans and plankton as babies then transition to small baitfish (like herring and sardines) as adults. 

Since their meat is a prized food for humans, salmon fishing is heavily regulated to ensure we don’t overfish them.

Parting Thoughts

Salmon is one of our favorite fish to eat. It tastes delicious and can be cooked in many different ways. But unfortunately, it is one of the more expensive fish you can buy. Salmon is so expensive because there is far less supply than there is demand.

Salmon is so expensive also because it is a difficult fish to catch compared to other species. You can only catch wild salmon by fishing for it with a rod and reel as opposed to using nets.

We hope you found this article on why salmon is so expensive informative and useful. Have a favorite recipe for cooking salmon? Be sure to check out how to clean salmon effectively before cooking it!

Happy Hunting!

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