The most expensive foods and beverages in the world are natural or organic or specialty and fine foods and drinks. Like donkey cheese, sperm whale puke and coffee made from cat poop!
Prices for more regular specialty foods and drinks like A5 wagyu, saffron or white truffles can go up to hundreds or even thousands or ten thousands of dollars (or euros, yens, yuans, pounds, dirhams, rubles, bitcoins, etc.). Because of their rarity, or the way they have been harvested or produced or collected in a responsible manner. And as you will read below, there are some bizar foods out there. What about ambergris, sperm whale vomit ? The good news is that this cannot be more authentic, natural, organic or biodynamic than as it comes. And kopi luwak, cat poop coffee? Only here you have to be careful who produces it. Read on.
‘Fine food’, ‘specialty food‘ or ‘specialty drinks‘ are unique and high-value food items or drinks made in small quantities from high-quality natural ingredients. Often we can only find them in a limited number of countries or regions. Consequently, they also are not only the most expensive but also the rarest foods and drinks. However, specialty food is sometimes controversial due to animal welfare (foie gras) , overfishing (Atlantic bluefin tuna) or other considerations (animal protection like for ambergris in some countries).
The Benefits of Organic Specialty Food and Drinks
Today people more and more are turning to foods and drinks that are ‘organic‘. Above all, they perceive organic foods and drinks as having various benefits compared to non-organic foods. Organic foods are produced without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetic modification, antibiotics, hormones, etc. Firstly, consumers consider them to be better for their health. Secondly, organic farming is better for the environment.
Consumers typically are prepared to pay higher prices for organic and specialty foods and drinks compared to non-organic, non-specialty foods. Moreover, both specialty and organic foods and drinks are more expensive due to the fact they are either rare or contain more costly natural ingredients and need more intensive labor to produce them.
This site, blog and the Snacq Boutique (soon to be opened) is especially meant for those people who support this and want to buy and enjoy or just want to learn more about gourmet and organic specialty food and drinks that are produced in a responsible manner. Even if they are the most expensive foods and beverages in the world.
As a result, natural or organic specialty foods and drinks are therefore world’s most expensive fine foods
What are the Most Expensive Specialty Foods and Drinks in the World?
Here sixteen of world’s most expensive organic specialty foods and drinks (and still counting):
1. Saffron, World’s Most Expensive Top Spice
At US $5,000 per kg or higher, saffron is the world’s most expensive top spice. The reason it is so expensive is because it is an extremely labor-intensive crop. The buds develop to complete flowers in the fall. Each flower has three threads in the center. As a result a farmer must grow and hand-harvest and process more than 80,000 crocus flowers to make one pound of saffron.
The second most expensive spice is vanilla. Only the less known ambergris is more expensive. However, that is a condiment and not really a spice. It actually is sperm whale vomit.
2. World’s Most Expensive Artisanal Pule Cheese from Donkey Milk
Pule cheese made from donkey milk is an artisanal cheeses you probably never heard of. Skilled specialty cheese makers produce the cheese by hand using traditional craftsmanship. For example, they allow the cheeses to age and ripen for a longer time and therefore they are often more complex in taste and variety. So pule cheese – made from donkey’s milk – costs between $600 – $1000 per pound, the most expensive cheese and one of the most expensive foods in the world.
The second most expensive cheese is moose cheese – yes, made from moose milk – can cost around $450 per pound. Other less known, but still expensive, cheeses are English cheeses like Wyke Farms Cheddar and White Stilton Gold.
3. Jamon Iberico de Bellota, the Best Spanish Dry-Cured Ham
Jamón ibérico is dry-cured jamón (ham) produced from livestock of iberian breed pigs who receive the special ‘ibérico/a’ denomination. Its fatty marbled texture has made it very popular as a delicacy, with a hard to fulfill global demand comparable to that of kobe beef.
It is one of the most globally recognized food items of the Spanish cuisine. It is also regularly a component of tapas. Then other famous Spanish ham is jamón serrano .The well-known Italian variant of dry-cured ham is Prosciutto di Parma or Parma Ham.
The Spanish Jamón Ibérico hams encompass some of the most expensive ham produced in the world. A leg of it can cost as much as $4,500.
4. Italian White Alba ‘Truffle of the White Madonna“
The white truffle from Alba is the Tuber magnatum, or trifola d’Alba Madonna (“Truffle of the White Madonna” in Italian; Tuber Magnatum Pico or Alba truffle).
You can find it (if you are lucky) mainly in the Langhe and Montferrat areas of the Piedmont region in northern Italy and, most famously, in the countryside around the cities of Alba and Asti.
The Italian White Truffle is one of world’s most expensive and prestigious organic fine foods in the world. This is due to its unique and exceptional flavour and its rarity. Very few are found by truffle dogs every season.
Its prestige is justified also by the fact that they cannot be cultivated so they are found only in the wild. The current price of Italian white Alba truffle is currently around$2000 per pound. It is much more expensive than black truffles or Tuber Melanosporum.
5. Edible Bird’s Nest, a Chinese Delicacy
The nests of the swiftlets or edible bird’s nests. Indian and other swiftlets use solidified saliva to create the nests. People then harvest the edible swiftlet’s nests for human consumption.
The Chines particularly prize them due to their rarity and high nutritional value in nutrients such as protein, and rich flavor. Edible bird’s nests are among the most expensive foods in the world. People buy them at prices up to about $3,000 per pound ($6,600/kg), depending on grading. The type or grading of a bird’s nest depends on the type of bird as well as the shape and color of the bird’s nest. It is usually white in color. But there also exists a red version that the Chinese call “blood” nest.
The Chinese believe that it promotes good health, especially for the skin. The nests have been used in Chinese cooking for over 400 years, most often as bird’s nest soup.
6. World’s Costliest Coffee Luwak is Actually Cat Poop
World’s costliest coffee is luwak (or in Indonesian ‘kopi luwak’ for ‘civet coffee’). The Asian palm civet produces the luwak coffee in a very natural way. A very different way to make coffee! The palm civet eats the coffee cherries and defecates the partially digested coffee cherries. The cherries pass through the civet’s intestines and ferment. And after the cats defecate them with other fecal matter, they are collected and processed.
People on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi, and in East Timor traditionally gather kopi luwak in the forests. Kopi luwak also comes from the islands of the Philippines and Vietnam. In the Philippinnes people call the product kape motit, in the Cordillera region, kapé alamíd in Tagalog areas, kapé melô or kapé musang in Mindanao, and kahawa kubing in the Sulu Archipelago. Weasel coffee is a loose English translation of its Vietnamese name cà phê Chồn.
7. Hop Shoots for Beer and Herbal Medicines
The flowers of the hop plant Humulus lupulus produce hop shoots. They are used primarily as a bittering, flavouring, and stability agent in beer.
Brewers us hops also for their antibacterial effect over less desirable microorganisms and for purported benefits including balancing the sweetness of the malt with bitterness and a variety of flavours and aromas. Historically, traditional herb combinations for beers were believed to have been abandoned when beers made with hops were noticed to be less prone to spoilage.
They can cost up to US $430 per pound.
8. The Dark Da Hong Pao Tea for Millionaires
Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) is a dark Wuyi rock tea grown in the Wuyi Mountains. It is a heavily oxidized, dark oolong tea. The highest quality versions frequently sell as the world’s most expensive tea. In China, they only service it on special occasions for honored guests.
It costs almost $1.400 for a single gram, or well over $10.000 for a pot. People have paid for up to $1.025.000 per kilogram or $35.436 per ounce.
Da Hong Pao is a Wuyi tea, formerly known by the trade name Bohea in English. It is a category of black and oolong teas grown in the Wuyi Mountains of northern Fujian, China. The Wuyi region produces a number of well-known teas, including Lapsang souchong.
9. How Ambergris – Sperm Whale Vomit – Became a Favorite Dish for Kings
Ambergris is produced in the digestive system of sperm whales. It is used in foods and drinks, but also in perfumes. Freshly produced by the sperm whale, it has a marine, fecal odor. It acquires a sweet, earthy scent as it ages.
Historically people have used Ambergris in food and drink. A serving with eggs was reportedly King Charles II of England’s favorite dish. A recipe for making a cocktail from The English and Australian Cookery Book (mid 19th century) with Rum Shrub liqueur mentions ambergris. People used it also as a flavoring agent in Turkish coffee and in hot chocolate in 18th century Europe.
10. The rare Beluga Sturgeon Iranian Almas Caviar
The beluga sturgeon Caviar (less often, caviare‘) is a food consisting of salt-cured roe (fish eggs) of the. For many caviar is one of world’s most famous delicacies and we eat it as a garnish or a spread. It certainly is one of the most expensive fine seafoods.
The world’s most expensive caviar is the very rare Iranian Almas caviar. A pale-colored beluga caviar that comes from 100-year-old albino sturgeons from the Caspian Sea. You can buy Almas caviar in gold-plated presentation boxes and retails at about $25,000 for 2.2 pounds. (Source: Wikipedia).
Other fine seafoods are lobster, crab, abalone, salmon, beluga sturgeon, tuna, salmon gravlax and other luxury seafood
11. The Organic, nor Force-Fed Foie Gras
Foie gras is a specialty food product made of the liver of a duck or goose.
It is a popular and well-known delicacy in French cuisine. People describe its flavor as rich, buttery, and delicate, unlike that of an ordinary duck or goose liver. You can buy the delicacy whole, or prepared into mousse, parfait, or pâté. Or serve it as an accompaniment to another food item, such as steak. French law states that “Foie gras belongs to the protected cultural and gastronomical heritage of France.”
The organic ,so not force-fed foie gras comes with a $150 price tag for a jar of 125g .
12. Yubari King Melons
The Yubari King Melon is a cantaloupe cultivar . They grow the melon in greenhouses in Yūbari, Hokkaido, a small city close to Sapporo.
A top-grade melon is to be perfectly round and have an exceptionally smooth rind. Also, they leave a portion of the stem on the top for aesthetic appeal.
At a Japanese auction in 2008, two Yubari King melons sold together for ¥2.5 million. Note: ¥2.5 million is about 22.500 USD. So this makes it one of the most expensive fruits in the world.
13. The Japanese Cow’s A5 Wagyu or Kobe Beef
The Japanese cow produces world’s best beef called Wagyu (和牛, Wagyū, “Japanese beef”). It is any of the four Japanese breeds of beef cattle. And one of the most expensive foods in the world.
In several areas of Japan, there are several names for Wagyu beef. Some examples are Matsusaka beef, Kobe beef, Yonezawa beef, Mishima beef, Ōmi beef, and Sanda beef. In recent years, Wagyu beef has increased in fat percentage due to decrease in grazing and an increase in using feed, resulting in larger, fattier cattle.
High-grade wagyu can cost up to $200 per pound, and the cows themselves can sell for as much as $30,000. A5 Olive Wagyu is the top quality, hard-to-get steak from Japanese cows that are fed toasted olive peels. For a 16-ounce, rib eye (in about three pounds of dry ice) it fetches $240.
14. La Bonnotte Potatoes from the Island of Noirmoutier in France
Noirmoutier’s La Bonnotte potatoes are the most expensive potatoes in the world. Farmers cultivate only around 100 tons of this top quality potato per year coming only from the island Noirmoutier.
The cost of one kilogram can reach €500 (US $322 per pound). The potatoes normally sell for around €70 per kilo (US $45 per pound).
The cost is high because this type of potato is almost extinct and must be harvested by hand. The potato fields also require fertilization by seaweed in a climate shaped by the nearby sea.
15. Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale de Modena
The Traditional Balsamic Vinegar (or Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale) is a type of balsamic vinegar from Modena and the wider Emilia Romagna region of Italy. Traditional Balsamic Vinegar (TBV) is produced from cooked grape must. It ages at least 12 years. And it is protected under the European Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) system. This is also the reason why it fetches higher prices.
The term balsamico derives from the Latin word “balsamum” and from the Greek word “βάλσαμον”. The words mean “restorative” or “curative”. The art of cooking the must of grapes dates back to the ancient Romans. Romans used it both as a medicine and in the kitchen as a sweetener and condiment.
Today, world’s cooks know aceto balsamico tradizionale. It is available to shoppers everywhere. It can sell for as much as US $200 for 100 ml. Which makes it another one of the most expensive foods in the world.
16. To’ak Chocolate
To’ak Chocolate is an Ecuadorian company. Jerry Toth and Carl Schweizer founded To’ak (pronounced Toe-Ahk) in 2013. The company produces the most expensive chocolate in the world. To’ak’s mission is to change the way we consume chocolate.
Prices can go up to around €200 for a single 50-gram bar of chocolate. The special Art Series edition is a collaboration with prominent Ecuadorian artists and has a waiting list of 6 weeks and costs €446. But what are the reasons is it so expensive and what is the story behind To’ak Chocolate?