Most Expensive Food in the World
Have you ever wondered what the most expensive food in the world might be? Here’s a fun and informative list of the top 14.
Sometimes a hunt on the internet can take you down a rabbit hole leading you to research and learn about topics you don’t usually consider or think about. For example, a quick search concerning edible gold and its cost can lead to hunting for the answers to the questions, “What is the most expensive food ingredient in the world?” Spoiler, the most expensive food is not edible gold but a variety of oysters.
Keep reading to learn about the most expensive food in the world, from caviar to moose cheese. These are not recipes or meals (like the Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata). Instead, you’ll find single ingredients that can add a hefty price tag to your dinner plate.
14 Most Expensive Foods
Can you guess the most expensive foods in the world before we get started? Some of these might surprise you!
Surprisingly, oysters were not always considered a delicacy. A few hundred years ago, there was a much larger population of oysters. This high quantity meant that everyone could eat oysters, and they were often eaten by anyone who stopped by the bar as a cheap, delicious snack.
After the continuous farming of oysters drastically altered the number available, it has quickly become a luxury food. Currently, it costs $24-$100 per dozen, depending on the quality and where you purchase them.
2. Foie Gras (Duck or Goose Liver)
Foie gras is popular for its buttery, creamy consistency and subtle patê-like flavor. This duck or goose liver is fattened by gavage or force-feeding. Due to how the livers are fattened, it remains a controversial food.
Some countries and US states have banned the production of foie gras, though it’s common to see restaurants carrying it in places like France. It has a cost of about $90-$110 per pound.
3. Wagyu Beef
Wagyu, meaning Japanese cow, is often regarded as the best cut of steak. This Japanese beef is distinguishable by the impressive marbling of fat which helps create the melt in your mouth tenderness that wagyu is known for when prepared properly. There are multiple varieties of wagyu, including Kobe beef, Ohmi, and Bungo, all with varying prices.
Some say that the best wagyu comes from a Japanese cow in Matsusaka, specifically, a virgin female cow. Wagyu beef costs around $200 per pound due to how each cow is raised, including what each cow is fed.
4. Vanilla Beans
We’ve all seen the price tag of genuine vanilla extract grow over the years, and it’s due to the main ingredient – vanilla beans. These beans are challenging to develop and mainly appear in Madagascar.
Unfortunately, there have been many storms in Madagascar over the years, which has caused the number of vanilla bean plants to decrease. As a result, the cost of vanilla beans (and authentic vanilla extract) continues to rise.
Currently, the price for vanilla beans is about $300 per pound. Many people have begun using artificial vanilla extract instead, which is cultivated in a lab and offers a more budget-friendly price.
5. Moose Cheese
Moose cheese is exactly what it sounds like – a cheese created from the milk of a moose. Its high price tag is because it is only produced on one farm globally – Sweden’s Moose House Farm/Elk House Farm.
It offers a creamy consistency that comes with a price tag of $500 per pound.
6. Kopi Luwak Coffee Beans
This is the most expensive coffee worldwide, with a price set at $250 to $1200 per kg (about $114-$550 per pound). Their particular process is what adds to the price tag. First, these coffee beans must be eaten by a Civet cat (hence its other name, Civet coffee). Once expelled, the coffee beans are collected and processed.
7. Matsutake Mushrooms
Matsutake mushrooms are partially scarce due to insects that continue to disrupt and destroy the mushrooms’ natural habitat. As the number of available mushrooms declines, the current matsutake mushrooms cost is around $1,000 per pound.
This mushroom is common in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese food and is revered for its unique spicy, sweet flavor. The matsutake mushrooms are only collected once a year and in quite a small quantity (under 1,000 tonnes), making them a rare delicacy for many. See our list of the top gourmet mushrooms for more budget-friendly options.
Vanilla beans are not the only seasoning product with a high price tag. Saffron, harvested from saffron crocus plants, remains one of the most expensive food items.
Red gold, a nickname referring to its color and high cost, requires a labor-intensive process to obtain. Saffron is the red-orange stigmas that grow inside the crocus flowers. These can be removed by hand and are harvested only a few times annually.
Due to the hard labor required, there is a cost of about $500-$2,000 per pound of saffron.
9. White Truffles
Truffles, in general, are one of the most expensive foods in the world. White truffles are a particular variety that only grows in their native environment in northern Italy and some parts of southern Europe.
These truffles are only found growing underneath specific types of trees, such as hazel, oak, and poplar. They offer a delicious woody flavor and a stronger taste than typical truffles. Since they only grow in a specific part of the world, they cost about $2,100 – $2,500 per kilogram.
10. Ayam Cemani Black Chicken
These chickens are a rare variety that originates from Indonesia. Ayam Cemani chickens are a black color from their feathers to skin and even internal organs. This pigmentation stems from a dominant gene that alters the chickens’ appearance.
These black chickens are found mainly in Malaysia and Indonesia, so anyone looking to find this rare chicken will need to travel abroad. Because of how rare they are (there are only about 3,500 in the world), Ayam Cemani chickens typically sell for about $2,500 per chicken.
11. Iberico Ham
Iberico ham is the most expensive ham in the world. It hails from Spain and comes from a particular section of the pig’s legs. These pigs only eat acorns and run free in the wild. The acorns help provide a particular flavor to this ham that makes it attractive for many.
This ham is aged for about 36 months, then sold for $4,500 for a leg.
12. Bluefin Tuna
This variety of tuna is some of the most expensive seafood available, with a price of $5,000 per pound and sometimes more. It’s beloved for its marbling effect, creating a rich texture and balanced flavor.
There are three varieties of Bluefin tuna, two of which are endangered and one which has the possibility of becoming endangered. Due to the limited quantity of bluefin tuna available and the cost of exportation, bluefin tuna remains one of the most expensive foods globally.
13. Black Watermelon
Japan is known for inventing new varieties of fruit, creating fruit in various shapes (like hearts), and finding other unique ways to curate fruit. This inventive fruit usually comes with a large price tag, like their black watermelons.
This distinctive fruit requires specific care and a spacious environment to thrive. Each year, there are only 100,000 black watermelons (aka Densuke watermelons) grown, leading to a price of up to $6,000 per watermelon.
Once cultivated, these deliciously sweet fruits offer a crunchy taste that many people can’t get enough of. You can, of course, find exotic fruits for much less.
14. White Gold Caviar
Last on the list is white gold caviar, an item that will set you back $40,000 per teaspoon. Part of what makes this particular variety of caviar expensive is that it is sourced from a rare Albino Sturgeon. This white caviar (named so for its appearance) has 24-carat gold running through it.
White gold caviar is only made by a father-son duo, who add the gold leaf into the caviar before dehydrating it, further boosting the price. These fish eggs take 8-10 years to harvest per batch, making them the finest caviar available.
While white gold caviar is the most expensive caviar globally, it’s not the most expensive caviar recorded. The Guinness Book of World Records has Almas, caviar sourced from the extremely rare Iranian Beluga Fish, listed at $34,500 per kg.
Final Thoughts on the Most Expensive Foods
There are quite a few things on this list of the most expensive foods in the world that I personally don’t have any desire to eat. Others here I absolutely love and are worth the splurge – like truffles, vanilla, and saffron. And I’d love to try Matsutake mushrooms with rice.
Have you tried any of the most expensive food items listed? After hearing about each item, would you try them?