What Is the Most Expensive Food?

Sometimes you go out to eat and realize that you’ve probably spent way too much and should have just made food instead. Either that or groceries are getting even more expensive and we’re all trying not to spiral out of control thinking about the absurdity of how much it costs to just eat while America alone throws away like 38% of all its food. But of all the foods, what is the most expensive food?

Is it actually beef?

You’ve probably heard “Wagyu beef” thrown around to describe beef that’s particularly expensive or valuable. There’s also Kobe beef which is a type of Wagyu that you’ve also probably heard of as particularly expensive. “Wagyu” just means “Japanese cattle,” by the way. Single cows bred for making this kind of beef can run you up to $30,000, though the meat itself probably comes out more realistically to something like $20-$50 per ounce at a steakhouse. You can tell the numbers are going to get more ridiculous because this is the first thing we’re talking about.

Anyway, Wagyu is the most expensive of the steaks, because making it is actually tightly regulated in Japan. That’s why there’s a distinction between American and Japanese Wagyu–the American variety is the result of crossbreeding Japanese cows with American ones. This became common in the West after 1997 when Japan banned the export of Wagyu cows. The cows are all bred and raised well, and honestly the way they’re regulated is dense enough to write a post about on its own. 

Really the reason we wanted to bring this up is to let you know that for the most part “Wagyu” or “Kobe” in the US is a meaningless label. Restaurants aren’t beholden to any kind of labeling requirement, so they often just any and everything Wagyu–while at retail the beef only needs to be 46.9% Wagyu to be labeled on the market. If someone is selling you a Wagyu burger it’s most definitely fake–the real thing is too fatty to be used in a burger. 

Just to hit it home a little harder, there are actually only eight certified Kobe beef restaurants in the US. Here they are.

There’s like a $32,900 melon out there

If there’s anything you should take away from this post it’s that any food could be made really expensive if we tried. Take the Yubari King, which is a cantaloupe farmed in Yubari, Hokkaido. We’re including this because in 2019 a pair of Yubari melons auctioned at ¥5 million, which is like $32,900.

There’s also bluefin tuna, which is highly prized for use in sushi. A 212 kilogram bluefin sold for $273,000 in 2023, which comes out to about $36.50 per ounce. Sounds expensive but we’re getting there.

Like white truffles, coming in at $2,000 per pound–which is $125 per ounce. Now we’re getting somewhere. Apparently they’re so expensive because the only way to really get them is by setting pigs loose to find them or something.

Yeah, it’s probably caviar

You saw this one coming–caviar is like the shorthand we use for what rich people eat in their ivory towers or something. We had to keep from adding a caviar joke to the introduction of this post because otherwise it would just have been too easy.

In comes Almas caviar, which costs like $35,000 per kilogram, roughly $1,000 per ounce. This caviar comes from the beluga sturgeon. They’re not critically endangered, thanks to being overfished and poached–mostly for use in caviar. So now we get to start making fun of rich people food.

Anyway, obviously the beluga sturgeon isn’t used in just Almas caviar. There’s beluga caviar too, which runs closer to like $625 per ounce on the high end. But what makes Almas caviar so special? Well the sturgeon can’t just be a beluga sturgeon, it has to be an Iranian beluga sturgeon, and has to come from a specific part of the Caspian sea. Then the fish has to be an albino sturgeon, because reasons, and it also has to be between 60 and 100 years old. 

We’ll probably never be able to afford trying this stuff out, but now we all know the most expensive food is “critically endangered albino fish eggs.” 

Food is probably more expensive when you turn it into cubes. Anyway here’s some cubic food.