Skip navigation

Big Fish Story

Some news reports simply don't make sense, at least to me. One recent one, reported by the Associated Press, indicated that a 489-lb. bluefin tuna recently sold for 155.4 million yen in Japan, which is about $1.7 million here, according to the article.

Let's do the math.

My calculations show that this selling price is equivalent to nearly $3,500 a pound, or about $217 an ounce. And presumably, the fish weight included skin, bones, organs and fins. Now, even if you could conceivably use some of this to make soup, I doubt anyone would be paying anywhere close to $217 an ounce for it.

No, the value is obviously in the flesh, which can be used to make sushi, sashimi and all those other no-cooking-required Japanese dishes. Let us (probably very generously) estimate that this highly desired portion of the tuna's carcass constitutes three-quarters of its weight. That means you'd have to sell the sushi/sashimi you make from it for nearly $300 an ounce just to cover the food cost (not including the rice and other ingredients).

Since this stuff will be sold in a pretty high end joint, there will be some pretty pricey labor and other overhead costs to cover as well. Assuming the standard 40 percent for food cost for the dish, that would mean a menu price of around a thousand bucks.

And remember, this assumes that three-quarters of the fish can be used to make high-end sushi that someone would plop an M note down for. It also assumes that the portion per dish is only an ounce.

Would you pay a thousand bucks for an ounce of fish and some rice? I hope that there's at least an unlimited salad bar to go along with it.

Oh, and I also assume that anyone eating this kind of dish wouldn't go with a Diet Coke chaser. High-end saki would be more like it. That will add to the bill.

So, to summarize, we are to believe that someone paid a price for a Moby Dick sized tuna that would require him to price the end result dish at a point where the hope is Bill Gates or the Saudi King comes in and is in a seafood mood.


Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.