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30 most expensive food ingredients in the world

most expensive ingredients in the world

After our recent article about weird and wonderful foods around the world, we’ve been bitten by the ‘listicle’ bug and thought it might be interesting to find out what the world’s most expensive foods are.

For this list we are only including food ingredients, not ‘the most expensive pizza in the world’ or ‘the most expensive hamburger in the world’, since these are mainly put together using the ingredients listed here! Plus in most cases you’d have to travel to New York or Las Vegas (to name just two) to actually eat these delicacies. We’ve included some links to sites detailing these dishes below.

What’s also interesting is how many foods actually appear on both this list and the weird and wonderful food list. So if you’re looking to compile a bucket list of all of the exotic and expensive foods to try before you die, then you’ve come to the right place. And you’ll be pleased to know that the highly toxic blowfish (fugu) is in fact not on this list (it’s on the other one).

It might be a bit of a long bow, but there is also a connection between this list and one of our products which may help people who are buying expensive ingredients – scroll down to find out more.

Thirty different food ingredients have made the cut, listed from least expensive to most expensive, counting down from 30 to 1. So without further ado, here is what we believe to be the most comprehensive list of all the world’s most expensive ingredients. Unfortunately you can’t get them all from Woolies.

30 Mangosteen
Price $25 per Kg
Mangosteen (also called ‘purple mangosteen’) is a hard-skinned fruit originally from South East Asia but now grown in tropical regions around the world. It is tangy and sweet, but with a mild flavour, often compared to a lychee or ripe peach in taste. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘Queen of Fruits’ (read about the ‘King of Fruits’ below)

29 Scottish lobster
Price $33 per Kg
Scotland has two entries in this list – the first of which is lobster. Although, compared to many of the entries in this list, Scottish lobster is relatively affordable, it is also one of the most sought after types of lobster. Back in the 1800s lobster was regarded as a food for poor people, but is now posh enough to feature in a famous Monty Python sketch – lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce.

28 Haggis
Price $35 per Kg
Haggis again is a traditional Scottish dish, not specifically for the wealthy. It is the result of stuffing a sheep’s stomach with sheep’s liver, lungs and heart and mixing in some spices along with oats (another Scottish favourite) and onions. These days you can get a vegetarian version.

27 Frost salt
Price $81 per Kg
One of the reasons frost salt is so reassuringly expensive and a cut above any other type of salt, is that is only found in one spot in the Egyptian desert. It is very white indeed and has a snowflake like appearance, so is great for food presentation.

26 Coffin Bay oysters
Price $111 per Kg
Coffin Bay in South Australia is renowned for its oysters. Much like other foods on this list, including lobster, oysters were once considered a food for the poor. Then along came champagne and then oyster bars. Coffin Bay oysters are prized around the world and especially in Japan.

25 Vanilla
Price $122 per Kg
The price is dictated by the fact that the flower blooms for a very short period and harvesting is very labour intensive. See also saffron below (no. 7).

24 Foie gras
Price $122 per Kg
Foie gras is a type of pate made from goose or duck liver. It is from France and apparently dates back 4,000 years. Some countries prohibit the sale or production of foie gras as it involves the force feeding of the animal to fatten up the liver.

23 Durian
Price $138 per Kg
Durian is sometimes dubbed the ‘King of Fruits’, but a lot of people might question this, given its offputting smell, often likened to rotting meat, smelly socks and turpentine. If you can get over this, then (apparently) the fruit itself is very tasty. It is native to Asia, but this hasn’t stopped it being banned on the train system in Singapore.

22 Wagyu beef/Kobe beef
Price $268 per Kg (Japanese sourced)
Wagyu beef (also known as Kobe beef) is named after the breed of cattle raised in the Hyogo region in Japan. They are raised in a stress-free environment which gives the meat a marbled effect and a juicy tenderness.

21 Jamon Iberico de Bellota
Price $434 per Kg
If you like leg of ham, then this should be top of your list. It is made in Spain and Portugal from free range pigs which eat only acorns and roots. The ham is cured for 6 years.

20 Matcha green tea
Price $685 per Kg
Drunk by Samurai warriors, perhaps because it’s good for a sustained boost of energy due to its caffeine content which releases over a longer period than caffeine from a cup of coffee.

19 La Bonnotte potatoes
Price $760 per Kg
La Bonnotte potatoes are grown only on the small island of Noirmoutier on the west coast of France which is in fact connected to the mainland by a bridge. It has a complex flavour reminiscent of lemon, earth and sea, we’re guessing because seaweed compost is used. The potatoes are too delicate to be harvested using machines, so all Bonnotte potatoes are hand picked. The high price is also down to the limited season – 1st-10th May – and the small harvest – only 20,000 kg are harvested every year.

18 Kopi luwak
Price $268-$774 per Kg
Not technically a food, this is a type of coffee bean, which also made the last list, due to how it is ‘made’. Also known as civet coffee, the coffee beans pass through the gut of the animal when eaten and apparently produce a less bitter cup of coffee.

17 Shark fin
Price $924 per Kg
In China shark’s fin is regarded as a delicacy and is believed to be an aphrodisiac. The way that shark fins are collected, known as ‘shark finning’, is however very cruel to the sharks – they have their main dorsal fin cut off while they are still alive and then sink to the bottom and either die of suffocation or are eaten by other fish. For this reason many countries and organisations have banned shark finning, or the import of shark’s fin products, or they do not serve the main dish – shark’s fin soup.

16 Densuke watermelon
Price $1148 per Kg
A first glance at a Densuke watermelon and you might think there was something wrong with it – they are jet black. However they taste great. Grown in Japan, only sixty five are sold every year, and they are much sought after.

15 Moose milk cheese
Price $1,188 per Kg
Comes in three different types – a feta type, a blue cheese and a rind type. Produced by just three moose in Sweden.

14 Hacienda La Esmeralda coffee
Price $1,465 per Kg
Grown in Panama, the Hacienda La Esmeralda coffee bean is a geisha bean which originated in Ethiopia reputed to have a hint of tangerine in the taste. Regarded as the world’s best coffee, it commands an appropriate price.

13 Yubari King melon
Price $1,465 per Kg
This melon is only produced in the Yubari region in Hokkaido in Japan. They are very sweet and quite large and, as they are only produced in very limited numbers, they are sold via auction.

12 Golden tigerfish
Price $1,741 per Kg
This fish lives off the coast of China and is mainly eaten there. One changed hands in 2007 for $83,000 – it was 48 Kg and 1.8m long.

11 Balsamic vinegar
Price $1,890 per litre (for 25 year old Modena-sourced)
Made from the rare Trebbiano grape in Modena in Italy (where Maseratis and Ferraris come from – no wonder it’s expensive). The grapes are left to dry for 10-25 years. You can get a 500ml bottle of the regular stuff from the supermarket for $5.

10 Matsutake mushrooms
Price $2,438 per Kg
Up until quite recently these mushrooms were a more normal price, but they have become increasingly rare and may become extinct, hence the price hike.

9 Ayam Cemani black chicken
Price $2,482 per Kg
The Ayam Cemina chicken is native to the island of Java in Indonesia and is rare in that it is not just a black chicken in the conventional sense – the chicken is totally black from head to foot, and even has very dark blood. Due to its rarity, it is very high demand amongst chicken fanciers, but not necessarily for eating them. They’re not big egg layers either. In Indonesia they are often sacrificed in rituals, for example when breaking ground on a major construction project.

8 Black truffles
Price $2,500 per Kg
Also known as the ‘Perigord’ truffle, named after the region in France where they are found, black truffles are second only to white truffles (no. 1 on this list) in flavour… and price. Black truffles are also produced in Australia, with – perhaps ironically – a large chunk of that production being bought by French distributors.

NOTE
These types of truffle are not to be confused with the chocolate variety. Having said that, there is a chocolate truffle made in Denmark that uses black truffle and truffle oil as ingredients alongside ultra posh Valrhona dark chocolate, dusted in fine cocoa powder. A snip at $355 each.

7 Saffron
Price $1,300-$7,500 per Kg
Also known as ‘red gold’ saffron is a rich yellow colour and is often added (in sparing amounts) to rice. It’s expensive because the flower it comes from – a crocus – only flowers for a week and all the saffron must be collected by hand then. Plus it takes 300,000 flowers to produce just 1 Kg of saffron.

6 Bluefin tuna
Price $9,753 per Kg
Much prized in Japan. In January a Japanese sushi business owner paid $3.4m for a giant (278kg) bluefin tuna at the first 2019 auction.

5 Bird’s nest
Price $11,063 per Kg
The bird’s nests in question are of the high flying swiftlet that lives in caves in Malaysia and Indonesia. They make their nests out of their own saliva, which takes the male of the species around two months. In China the resulting dish – bird’s nest soup – is regarded as a delicacy, and is full of nutrients. Actually getting the bird’s nests is major undertaking involving trekking to the caves and shimmying up ladders, and this is factored into the price. The bird’s nest soup comes in different types – red, white and yellow, of which the red is the priciest.

4 Glass eel
Price $32,350 per Kg (or ~$7.65 per elver)
Eel is particularly prized in Japan, and fluctuations in catches of eel in south east Asia lead to huge fluctuations in price. Juvenile eel – called glass eel (or elver) are eaten on specific days of the year in Japan in July and August and this is when prices spike wildly. However, even outside Japan, elver can be expensive – in Europe up to $1581 per kg. Word of warning – never eat eel raw – their blood is toxic to humans, even a very small amount can kill.

3 Gold leaf
Price $36,576 per Kg
Edible gold leaf is of course safe to eat, and is used mainly in desserts. It doesn’t really taste of anything. Used in very small quantities it’s actually not that expensive. Not generally used in eating contests.

2 Almas (white pearl albino) caviar
Price $38,169 per Kg
Caviar is pretty expensive – white pearl albino or ‘Almas’ caviar is the most expensive, as it is the roe from the rare albino beluga sturgeon found only in the Caspian and Black Seas (main picture – salmon roe caviar – much less expensive). The price above is based on the Guinness World record for white caviar from a 100 year old sturgeon. Regular caviar is around $3,800 per Kg.

1 White alba truffles
Price $243,395 per Kg
Truffles are a type of fungus that grow at the base of trees. White Alba truffles are from Piedmont in Italy and are found by specially trained pigs or dogs and are much rarer than other kinds. They cannot be cultivated, hence the price. The price above is based on how much a casino boss paid for a 1.5Kg one back in 2007. If you shop around you’d probably get one for less.

 

All prices are in Australia dollars. If you have found any of these foodstuffs fetching higher (or lower) prices than mentioned here please let us know so we can update this article, and rearrange the order if necessary(!).

And the connection to one of our products? If you have just bought yourself a leg of Jamon Iberico de Bellota ham (no. 21) or some bluefin tuna (no. 6), you’ll want to make sure you give everyone a slice of equal thickness.

Short of buying a butcher’s slicer, it’ll be hard with a regular knife… introducing the Baourouge slicing knife (pictured below), which is equipped with a special guide to make sure that all your slices – of ham or tuna, or of beef or even bread – are all the same thickness. Perfect for people who have exquisite taste in food, but also want to be conspicuously fair! Read all about it below.

More Information
The world’s most expensive foods
Top 10 unbelievably expensive food items in the world
15 of the world’s most expensive foods

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