Top 5 Most Expensive Types of Tuna Money Can Buy


Top-5-Most-Expensive-Types-of-Tuna

A well-cooked tuna fillet or freshly prepared tuna sashimi can be an extravagant dining experience for anyone. But tuna fish can be costly, with some specimens selling for millions. Still, what is the most expensive tuna, and why is it so pricey?

Bluefin tuna is the most expensive tuna, particularly wild-caught tuna harvested in Japan. A single fish of this type (and from this region) can sell for millions. This type of tuna is constantly in high demand, helping boost prices far beyond the comparatively low cost of canned albacore tuna.

This article will explore the costliest types of tuna on the planet and discuss why these fish sell for such high prices. If you’re looking to enjoy a top-quality cut of tuna fish, you’ll want to choose one of the options in this ranking!

Here Are the Top 5 Most Expensive Types of Tuna in the World:

Types of TunaMax WeightUsed ForMax Price
Bluefin1,472lbsSushi$5,000 per pound
Bigeye462lbsSteaks & sushi$42 per pound
Yellowfin427lbsCanned, steaks & sushi$35 per pound
Skipjack73lbsCanned & steaks$23 per pound
Albacore88lbsCanned & steaks$22 per pound

5. Albacore Tuna – Up to $22 Per Pound

Albacore-Tuna-Fish

If you’ve ever enjoyed a can of tuna, you’ve likely eaten albacore. This type of tuna has a distinctly fish taste and a flaky texture that differentiates it from other types of tuna. The maximum price per pound for albacore tends to top out at $22 per pound.

Still, this type of tuna is far more affordable than other meats. For example, many of the world’s most expensive hams are far costlier than albacore tuna.

Why It’s Expensive

Compared to other types of tuna, albacore isn’t expensive at all! That’s because albacore tuna is often used to produce canned tuna, which lasts far longer than fresh tuna cuts.

This results in a higher-than-average supply, lowering prices. However, overfishing practices may lead to higher prices for this type of tuna fish.

The Most Expensive Type

The priciest type of albacore tuna is whole fish weighing 80lbs or more. However, wild-caught albacore that’s fresh (aka unfrozen) can fetch much higher prices than canned alternatives. That said, most albacore is processed into canned tuna, lowering its overall value.

4. Skipjack Tuna – Up to $23 Per Pound

Skipjack-Tuna-Fish

Skipjack tuna is often used to produce canned tuna products, but it’s also sold as fresh and frozen fillets. This type of tuna can be found in warmer waters, particularly water near the equator.

Unlike other types of tuna, skipjack fish tend to live close to the surface of the water, making them easier to fish. These fish can weigh about 70lbs, making them one of the most petite types of tuna.

Why It’s Expensive

This type of tuna is slightly more expensive than albacore tuna, but not by much. It’s the most prevalent type of wild tuna, which also helps make it relatively affordable.

The main reason it’s pricier than albacore is its better consumer reputation. After all, albacore is associated with low-cost tuna products, while skipjack is a slightly more prestigious option.

The Most Expensive Type

The most expensive type of skipjack tuna is fresh fillets. However, canned alternatives and frozen fillets are often far less costly.

3. Yellowfin Tuna – Up to $35 Per Pound

Yellowfin-Tuna

Yellowfin tuna (also called ahi tuna) is far pricier than albacore or skipjack. These fish can grow to about six feet in length and weigh an average of 400lbs, making them one of the largest types of tuna in the world.

These fish live in the Indian Ocean and are also found in the Atlantic and Pacific waters. Most are fished off the coast of California and the waters surrounding the Hawaiian islands.

Ahi tuna costs between $4 and $35 per pound, and fillets are often dense. Some diners compare the texture of this tuna to swordfish.

Those hoping to elevate a yellowfin tuna dish may want to pair it with a cup of one of the world’s most expensive tea!

Why It’s Expensive

This fish is one of the costlier options due to its large size, the consumer demand for ahi tuna, and its usage as a popular sushi ingredient. However, Yellowfin tuna is also one of the most accessible types of tuna in North America, making it an in-demand option for diners in the United States and Canada.

The Most Expensive Type

Wild-caught ahi tuna from Hawaii is one of the priciest options available to consumers. Fresh cuts from recently caught fish top the price list, though diners will likely need to travel to the Hawaiian island to enjoy a bite.

While frozen yellowfin are shipped around the globe, the freezing process can damage the texture and flavor of the fish, making it less valuable.

2. Bigeye Tuna – Up to $42 Per Pound

Bigeye-Tuna-Sashimi

Bigeye tuna live in the Atlantic. They’re of a similar size to yellowfin tuna, and their physical characteristics are pretty similar. However, the flavor of this tuna is very different from the flavor of ahi tuna, as bigeye tuna tend to live in colder waters.

Consequently, this fish develops more fatty tissue to help the fish regulate its internal temperature while swimming in cold environments. This quality makes it slightly less desirable than its yellowfin counterpart, particularly for those looking to consume less fat.

However, the comparatively high-fat content of Atlantic bigeye tuna does imbue it with a softer texture and a savory, buttery flavor. Consequently, fresh bigeye tuna cuts can sell for up to $42 per pound.

Why It’s Expensive

This type of tuna is primarily expensive due to its unique flavor, though demand also contributes to the price. In addition, many consumers find that bigeye tuna is a fantastic alternative to low-quality albacore and high-priced bluefin.

The Most Expensive Type

The most expensive type of bigeye tuna is fresh-caught specimens from the wild waters off the coast of New England.

That said, dockside prices tend to be low, whereas fish markets (mainly those found far from coastal areas) tend to charge some of the highest prices.

1. Bluefin Tuna – Up to $5,000 Per Pound

Bluefin-Tuna

The most expensive tuna is bluefin tuna. This type of tuna fish can be found in the North Atlantic and some areas of the Pacific ocean. In fact, bluefin tuna is a broad term referring to three specific types of fish:

  • Atlantic
  • Pacific
  • Southern

These creatures often inhabit waters that are between 1,600 and 3,200 feet deep. As such, fishing for bluefin tuna requires advanced commercial fishing equipment.

This type of tuna is sought after due to the delicate marbling of its meat and its distinct flavor. Unfortunately, overfishing has resulted in limited wild populations of bluefin tuna, with the Atlantic species being most at risk.

As you might imagine, this decreased supply has contributed to the increasing cost of wild-caught bluefin tuna fish. A single pound of this delicacy can cost between $20 and $5,000.

Why It’s Expensive

There are quite a few reasons why bluefin tuna is the most expensive type of tuna. Firstly, it’s the most sought-after type of tuna on the planet. Rather than being served in juice-filled cans, bluefin tuna is often served fresh, allowing diners to experience its mellow flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Apart from demand, size is a significant reason behind this fish’s incredible average price. The average weight of a bluefin tuna hovers around 500lbs, but some specimens can weigh more than 600lbs. That’s a lot of cuts from a single fish!

Additionally, bluefin tuna is often used to create the most expensive sushi dishes in the world. As such, the cost of fresh bluefin tuna somewhat relies on the demand for high-quality sushi.

The Most Expensive Type

A whole, fresh-caught bluefin tuna tends to be more expensive than singular cuts. After all, an exceptional-quality bluefin tuna can weigh more than 600lbs, equating to hundreds of decadent sashimi cuts or dozens of premium-quality fillets.

What Is the Most Expensive Tuna Ever Sold?

612-pound-bluefin-tuna
photo source: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

According to Guinness World Records, the most expensive tuna fish sold at auction was bluefin tuna weighing 612lbs. In 2019, this massive fish sold in Japan for $3.082 million!

To put this in perspective, the average wild tuna fish only grows to be about 500lbs. As such, this particular specimen was enormous. Its size was undoubtedly part of the reason behind its incredible auction price, but it wasn’t the only factor influencing its value.

What Makes Some Tuna So Expensive?

Several qualities make some tuna far more expensive than others. Generally, the most crucial factors impacting tuna fish price are:

  • Type
  • Size
  • Origin
  • Demand

If you’re looking to purchase a pricey slab of gourmet tuna for at-home use or order a decadent tuna-based dish, you’ll want to review these factors before placing your order.

Type

The most crucial factor influencing tuna price is type. Some types of tuna are considered far more valuable than others, with bluefin tuna tending to be the costliest option.

Bluefin tuna is thought to be the highest-quality type of tuna, but it also tends to be the largest type of tuna. This quality makes it inherently more valuable than smaller types.

Size

As we’ve established, there are several types of tuna fish. But did you know that the maximum possible size of a tuna fish often varies depending on its type?

For example, albacore tuna can grow to about 80lbs, but adult bluefin tuna often weigh 500lbs or more! Naturally, the larger the fish, the more harvestable meat it provides. As such, the most valuable tuna fish tend to be massive bluefin specimens instead of comparatively small albacore fish.

Origin

Where a tuna fish comes from also impacts its price. For example, tuna fished from the waters surrounding Japan tend to be costlier than specimens caught in coastal waters surrounding the United States.

Whether a specific tuna fish is wild-caught or farmed also impacts pricing. Typically, wild-caught tuna are more valuable than cultivated specimens.

Tuna fish allowed to grow in the wild tend to have access to a wide variety of food sources. In addition, because they live in expansive waters, few constraints limit their maximum possible size.

Alternatively, tuna from fish farms are often fed a limited diet and can only grow as large as their tanks allow. These types of fish may also be provided antibiotics to reduce the risk of illness.

However, these medications can remain in the fish’s meat long after application, which can concern some consumers. For these reasons, most dedicated sushi eaters are willing to spend more to enjoy wild-caught fish.

Demand

Consumer demand for some types of tuna also influences prices. For example, canned albacore is far less desirable to buyers than fresh bluefin tuna.

This variation in demand is partially the result of quality differences, as bluefin tuna tends to be higher quality than albacore. But fishing practices also contribute to price changes.

There’s been significant controversy surrounding tuna fishing practices. Some disreputable companies have sold assorted kinds of seafood labeled as albacore tuna.

One of the most notable controversies is the practice of catching and killing dolphins while fishing for tuna. This issue has led to multiple lawsuits aimed at major tuna-fishing companies in the United States.

Japanese fishing practices tend to be far stricter than those in the United States, resulting in higher buyer demand for Japanese-caught tuna. Additionally, Japanese bluefin tuna has an international reputation for being exceptionally high-quality, contributing to demand.

As the law of supply and demand commands, the higher the demand, the higher the item’s value. So, coupled with limited supply, especially in the light of harsher fishing limits, it’s likely that the value of bluefin tuna from Japan will only become pricier over time.

Where Can You Find High-Quality Tuna?

High-quality wild-caught tuna is available all around the world! That said, if you’re looking to enjoy the best possible tuna fillets, you’ll likely want to order Japanese bluefin tuna from reputable online retailers.

Still, these portions will arrive frozen. However, it’s vital to note that freezing a fish, even when it’s whole, can degrade the quality of its meat. Traveling to Japan to enjoy the freshest cuts of bluefin tuna is a much better route, though it is far costlier than ordering online.

Tuna enthusiasts living in North America can also order wild-caught yellowfin tuna (also called ahi). This type of tuna may not be as treasured as bluefin options, but it is far more available to diners in the United States and Canada.

Once again, traveling to coastal destinations known for their supply of high-quality fresh tuna could be the best choice, particularly for those hoping to enjoy the most flavorful tuna cuts. Hawaii is one of the best locations for tuna lovers, as it’s a prime location for catching wild yellowfin.

What Is the Most Expensive Tuna?

The most expensive tuna is bluefin tuna, particularly specimens caught off the coast of Japan. A single bluefin tuna caught in this region can sell for millions, especially if it’s of above-average size.

These tuna are expensive due to their superior size, perceived quality, and exceptional flavor. Demand also contributes to the high value of Japanese bluefin tuna, as sushi lovers and seafood enthusiasts from around the world often compete for the opportunity to try a bite of this specific type of tuna.

Check out these related articles now to learn more about the world’s most expensive foods!

Eric Lyons

Eric is a subject-matter expert on the world's most expensive luxuries and collectibles. He has explored thousands of luxuries and collectibles over the past few years and now brings them to readers around the world.

Recent Posts