Why is tuna so expensive
Tuna, either in canned or fresh form, has long been a mainstay in many people’s lives. In recent years, however, the prices have increased substantially for a number of reasons, primarily in regards to fresh tuna verses canned portions.
The primary reason for the rise in tuna price lies in its availability, especially for fresh larger tuna necessary for sushi or sashimi. While in the past tuna varieties such as Blue Fin or Yellow Eye were primarily used with Yellow Tail occasionally used as well these have now been nearly fished into extinction, driving up the price when a decent fish is actually caught and brought in for sale.
Many canned tuna varieties are still available for purchase in some supermarkets for reasonable prices, however this is primarily due to the different form of fish used for the process. Albacore (white meat tuna) and Skipjack (dark meat tuna) that are the two types primarily used in canned tuna are a relatively smaller species and are still abundant throughout the Pacific, making prices relatively cheaper for consumers to purchase them over fresh tuna. Their smaller form and meat content/quality makes them generally unsuitable for sashimi uses, however their ability to be processed quickly and effectively into canned portions more than makes up for this.
As availability of some of the more desirable large tuna varieties dwindles, however, this is putting additional pressure on the albacore and skipjack tuna varieties due to the continued consumer demand for the fish being shifted over to what has traditionally been seen as the “less desirable” type. In some areas this has caused prices of even canned tuna to skyrocket, though not nearly to the level of the tens of thousands of dollars as seen being paid for some of the top-quality fish brought in today.
Nevertheless the ability for many canned tunas to be made available in “flaky” forms that are comprised of up to 25% meat flakes dropped during the fish processing has helped to keep canned forms down, while “fancy”, “whole” or “chunky” canned meats with more solid meat
content have been those primarily affected.