Sea Urchins: Reasons Why They Are Expensive

Sea urchins are found on the seabeds of all oceans and in all depth zones, from the intertidal shoreline to 5,000 meters deep (16,000 ft; 2,700 fathoms). Sea urchins have spherical, hard shells (tests) that are round and spiky and range in diameter from 3 to 10 cm (1 to 4 in). Sea urchins move slowly, creeping with tube feet and using their spines to propel themselves.

Sea Urchins: Reasons Why They Are Expensive

Sea urchins eat a variety of slow-moving (sessile) creatures in addition to algae. The sea otter and starfish, the wolf eel, the triggerfish, and humans are all predators that eat sea urchins in the food chain.

At first appearance, the sea urchin does not appear to be the most delectable critter on the planet. It isn’t a particularly pleasant sight for someone strolling barefoot in the surf. Spiny, sharp, and nefarious-looking, it isn’t a particularly welcoming sight for someone lazily strolling barefoot in the surf.

The inside of the curiously spiky ball yields uni, which is actually the urchin’s reproductive organs, which is one of the most valued and decadent delicacies imaginable.

Read More: 10 Best Foods that are high in protein and low in fat for a balanced diet

The price of this seafood began to rise in 2014, when the global market for sea urchins topped $100 million, according to Malaysia Tatler. The first reason for the price increase is concerns about overfishing.

Sea urchins are pricey because they are in short supply, even in sea urchin-rich locations, due to intensive fishing. The demand exceeds the supply by a large margin. Sea urchins must be eaten fresh, but they perish quickly, therefore a lack of time and a scarcity of sea urchins make them expensive.

Citarella store estimates that a pound of fresh wild sea urchins cost $13 in 2021. One pound of sea urchin (uni) roe Grade A will set you back $315, whereas one pound of sea urchin (uni) roe Grade B will set you back $198.

Due to the scarcity of edible species, concentrated fishing tactics are used in sea urchin-rich areas, resulting in a global shortage of this roe-packed delicacy.

Sea Urchins: Reasons Why They Are Expensive

Furthermore, Japanese urchin variations continue to be in high demand, and these species, like fish, command a premium. The exclusivity of the species isn’t the only factor to consider; size is also important.

A sea urchin’s strong spines can stab your skin and cause you to bleed. However, many sea urchin spines carry lethal venom, which serves as a natural defense mechanism.

Touching the spines of a live sea urchin (or one that has been incorrectly prepared) might result in a variety of negative outcomes. Skin necrosis, paralysis, and death can result from contact with sea urchin toxin.

As a result, when handling and preparing sea urchins for guests, chefs must exercise extreme caution. This increased level of prudence and safety usually comes at a higher cost.

The spines of sea urchins, as well as the interior pedicellariae, can be dangerous (small valves). As a result, chefs must handle and prepare sea urchins with caution. The cost of sea urchin dishes may rise as a result of these safety steps.

Did you know there are over 950 different kinds of sea urchins? Only roughly 18 of these species are edible, did you know?

There are so few edible species, gathering, preparing, and serving uni is extremely difficult. Furthermore, fishermen find it difficult to harvest desirable species due to the scarcity of edible sea urchins.

Only about 20 kinds of sea urchins are edible, despite the fact that there are over 900. Because of the scarcity of edible sea urchins, finding and harvesting them is more difficult, making meal-ready uni more expensive.

Due to the scarcity of edible species, concentrated fishing tactics are used in sea urchin-rich areas, resulting in a global shortage of this roe-packed delicacy. Furthermore, Japanese urchin variations continue to be in high demand, and these species, like fish, command a premium.

Read More: Superfoods: 10 Best Most Nourishing foods

Sea urchins can be found in tidal areas along the beach, but they can also dwell up to 15,000 feet beneath the surface of the water. This depth places them below the continental shelf line, which is about 12,400 feet deeper than the typical ocean depth.

As a result, to collect sea urchins, commercial fishers frequently require specialized deep-sea harvesting equipment. Overfishing has made this even more important, as tidal species have been nearly eradicated in most parts of the world.
The cost of uni rises as a result of the labor and equipment necessary to gather sea urchins.

We have some bad news for you if you think breaking into an urchin shell doesn’t need much talent. Multiple urchins must be picked for their innards in order to acquire a single serving of urchin at a restaurant.

After that, each shellfish must be gently split in half and handled to extract all of the insides. With all of these responsibilities, it’s no surprise that the cost of seafood has risen dramatically. Next time you order urchins at your favorite restaurant, remember how much work went into getting that small portion of roe to your plate.

Sea Urchins: Reasons Why They Are Expensive

Trying to figure out how to get any meat out of a sea urchin you find at your local fish market can drive anyone insane. The majority of the edible portion of the animal is made up of either roe or corals once you break through the sharp exterior. At best, each urchin will yield a few spoonfuls of roe, and larger urchins will yield more juicy insides.

According to Malaysia Times, the tiny amount of actual food that can be extracted from an urchin leads to the astronomical price that some of us may encounter the next time we go out for sushi.

Read More: Kobe Beef: Why It Is Expensive

Due to a scarcity of high-quality uni, ex-vessel prices for the animals are set to rise. Prices have been fluctuating between 76 cents and 84 cents per pound since 2014, but data from PacFIN for 2017 shows average prices of $1.53 per pound for urchins delivered in 2017 and $1.46 for urchins shipped this year.

Prices for each averaged roughly 13,000 yen in the first half of last year. Imported sea urchins were even more expensive than domestically produced ones in May. The Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo handles the world’s greatest quantity of sea urchins.

Sea urchins are extremely helpful because they relieve stress, aid concentration, build brain capillaries, defend against seasonal epidemics of respiratory diseases in large cities, maintain endocrine system function, and remove toxins from the body. Because of this, sea urchins are incredibly beneficial to human health.

Read More: 5 Most Expensive Foods In The World

Per 100 g, there are 13.8 g of protein, 4.3 g of fat, and 2.5 g of carbs. The product is minimal in calories, with only 86 calories per 100 grams. The calories in sea urchin roe are slightly greater, with 104 kcal per 100 g. The glycemic index of the product is only 15 units, making it suitable for people with diabetes.


Affiliate Disclosure: Purchases that are made using our links may earn us commissions from affiliate partners such as Amazon and other retailers.

Leave a Comment!