The World’s Most Expensive Crabs: What You Want to Know

by Ella

Crab meat, known for its delicate flavor and succulent texture, has been a culinary delight enjoyed by people around the globe for centuries. While crab meat is widely available in various forms and price ranges, there exists a luxurious segment of the market where certain crab varieties command exorbitant prices. These prized crustaceans are considered the creme de la creme of crab meat, reserved for the most discerning palates and exclusive dining experiences. In this article, we will embark on a gastronomic journey to explore the world of the most expensive crab meat, discovering the unique qualities, sourcing, and cultural significance of these luxurious delicacies.

Snow Crab, What is it, and Where Does it Come From?

Snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) is a type of crab that belongs to the family of spider crabs (Majidae). Also known as Opilio crab or Queen crab, snow crab is a highly valued seafood delicacy known for its tender, sweet meat. It is predominantly harvested from the cold waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans.


a) Physical Characteristics:

Snow crabs have a distinctive appearance with a slightly rounded, spiny carapace (shell) and long, slender legs. The carapace is typically orange or reddish-brown, while their legs are pale with a tinge of blue. Unlike some other crab species, snow crabs have a narrow, elongated body shape.


b) Habitat and Range:

Snow crabs are found in the cold, deep waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In the North Atlantic, they are abundant in regions such as the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Grand Banks, and the Barents Sea. In the North Pacific, they are commonly found in the Bering Sea and the waters off the coast of Alaska.


c) Life Cycle:

Snow crabs undergo a complex life cycle, which includes several larval stages before reaching adulthood. The larvae are planktonic and drift with ocean currents for several weeks before settling to the ocean floor. As they grow, snow crabs molt their shells to accommodate their increasing size.


d) Harvesting and Fishing Methods:

Snow crab is mainly harvested using large, specially designed fishing vessels equipped with traps or pots. The traps are baited with fish and lowered to the seafloor, where they attract snow crabs. Once the traps are retrieved, the crabs are sorted, and undersized or unwanted ones are returned to the sea. The harvesting season for snow crab typically occurs during the colder months when the crabs are more abundant.

e) Culinary Uses and Culinary Delicacy:

Snow crab is prized for its delicate, sweet flavor and tender meat. The clusters of meat from the legs and claws are the most sought-after parts. Snow crab legs are often sold pre-cooked and frozen for easy preparation. They can be steamed, boiled, grilled, or baked, and are commonly served with melted butter or dipping sauces.

f) Commercial Importance:

Snow crab is a commercially valuable species and is highly sought after in the seafood market. It is exported to various countries and enjoys popularity in both domestic and international cuisines. Its versatility in culinary applications makes it a favorite ingredient in dishes like crab cakes, salads, and sushi rolls.

g) Sustainability and Fisheries Management:

Due to its popularity, the snow crab fishery is subject to strict regulations and management practices to ensure its sustainability. Quotas are established to limit the amount of snow crab that can be harvested each season, and conservation measures are put in place to protect the crab populations and their habitats.

The Most Expensive Crab Ever Sold

In Tottori Prefecture, Japan, an auction was held in November 2019 where a male snow crab was sold for a staggering amount of 5 million yen, equivalent to around $46,000. The auctioneers said this crab smashed records for being the priciest crab ever sold! It was a giant crab, measuring 14.6 cm (5.74 inches) wide and weighing 1.2 kg (2.7 pounds).

Comparison to the Previous Year’s Record

In 2018, a bidder from Japan successfully bid 2 million yen at an auction held on November 7, 2018. Kanemasa-Hamashita Shoten Co., Ltd. won the Guinness World Record for the bid, equivalent to around US$17,648.40. The auction occurred at the Tottori Prefectural Fisheries Cooperative Karo Branch in Tottori, Japan. However, the crab that broke the record in 2019 exceeded the previous one by over twice the amount.

Highest Bid Auctions for Snow Crabs from 2021-2022

Let’s examine the world’s mind-boggling sales events for snow crabs from 2021 until 2022.

2021: $7,000
In 2021, at the beginning of the fishing season on November 6, a snow crab was sold for an eye-popping $7,000 at an auction in Fukui Prefecture’s fishing port. This price was unheard of for a male crab marketed under the “Kiwami” brand by the prefectural government. The winning bidder was a Toyooka City hotel owner.

2022: $21,500
In the initial auction of the fishing season on November 6, 2022, the priciest snow crab raked in a whopping $21,500 at Shibayama Port in Hyogo Prefecture. The winning bid was for a male snow crab of the “Matsuba Gani” variety.

3 Other Luxury Crab Varieties:

a) Alaskan King Crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus):

The Alaskan King Crab, renowned for its colossal size and sweet, delicate flesh, hails from the frigid waters of the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean. Treasured by seafood enthusiasts and revered by chefs worldwide, this majestic crab commands a premium price due to its limited availability and challenging harvesting process.

b) Dungeness Crab (Metacarcinus magister):

Native to the Pacific Northwest, the Dungeness Crab is celebrated for its tender, slightly sweet meat with a hint of brininess. Its popularity among connoisseurs and culinary aficionados contributes to its elevated price, especially during peak harvesting seasons.

d) Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus):

The Blue Crab, native to the Atlantic coast of the United States, offers delectable meat that boasts a rich, buttery taste. This esteemed crab variety is a staple of upscale seafood restaurants and is often featured in gourmet dishes, contributing to its higher price point.

Factors Influencing the Price of Luxury Crab Meat:

a) Seasonal Availability:

The availability of luxury crab varieties is closely tied to their natural harvesting seasons. Limited seasonal windows for harvesting these crabs contribute to their rarity and, subsequently, their higher prices.

b) Sustainability and Conservation Efforts:

As the demand for luxury crab meat grows, there is an increasing emphasis on sustainable fishing practices to preserve crab populations and their natural habitats. Efforts to ensure responsible fishing can influence the cost of luxury crab meat.

c) Harvesting and Processing Methods:

The labor-intensive process of harvesting and processing luxury crab varieties, particularly in treacherous and remote waters, adds to the overall cost of the product.

d) Transport and Distribution:

The logistical challenges of transporting live crabs from distant waters to global markets can impact the final price of luxury crab meat, particularly for landlocked regions.

e) Culinary Demand:

The allure of luxury crab meat in high-end restaurants and culinary establishments drives demand, making it a prized ingredient for chefs and elevating its value.

What Advantages Does Crab Offer For Our Health?

Crab offers several health advantages due to its rich nutritional profile. Including crab in your diet can provide various essential nutrients and contribute to overall health and well-being. Some of the key health benefits of crab are:

1. High-Quality Protein: Crab is an excellent source of high-quality protein, which is essential for the growth, repair, and maintenance of tissues in the body. Protein is particularly important for muscle development and immune system function.

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Crab is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These essential fats are crucial for brain health, cognitive function, and reducing inflammation in the body.

3. Selenium: Crab is a good source of selenium, a trace mineral that acts as an antioxidant. Selenium helps protect cells from oxidative damage and supports a healthy immune system.

4. Vitamin B12: Crab is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin B12, which is essential for nerve function, DNA synthesis, and the formation of red blood cells. Adequate vitamin B12 intake is crucial for overall energy levels and a healthy nervous system.

5. Vitamin C: Although not as high as in fruits like oranges, crab does contain some vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports immune function and collagen production, promoting healthy skin, hair, and nails.

6. Phosphorus: Crab is a good source of phosphorus, an essential mineral that supports bone health, kidney function, and energy metabolism.

7. Low in Saturated Fat: Crab is relatively low in saturated fat, making it a healthier protein option compared to some other animal-based protein sources.

8. Low in Mercury: Some crab species, such as Alaskan Snow Crab, are known for being low in mercury, making them a safer seafood choice compared to certain fish varieties with higher mercury levels.

9. Low-Calorie Option: Crab is relatively low in calories compared to many other protein sources, making it a suitable choice for those looking to manage their calorie intake.

10. Improving Heart Health: The combination of omega-3 fatty acids, low saturated fat content, and other beneficial nutrients in crab may help support heart health by reducing inflammation and lowering levels of LDL cholesterol.


Luxury crab meat represents the epitome of indulgence in the world of seafood. From the prized Alaskan King Crab to the revered Dungeness Crab, these delicacies are revered for their exquisite flavors, limited availability, and cultural significance. The higher prices associated with luxury crab varieties are justified by their unparalleled taste, rarity, and the extraordinary efforts required to bring them to our plates. Whether savored at a Michelin-starred restaurant or experienced firsthand on a coastal crabbing expedition, the world of luxury crab meat offers a gastronomic journey that is unmatched in its opulence and culinary delight.



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