Comparing Costs: Is Fish Cheaper Than Chicken and Other Meat?

It’s no secret that adding some seafood to your diet is a fantastic alternative to always eating meat. A fillet of fish can make for a much leaner, lighter and more environmentally-friendly meal, and it helps you get your daily dose of protein and essential nutrients.

However, not everyone agrees on whether seafood is the most economical choice for budget-conscious consumers. So it’s worth asking: how much does fish cost compared to meat products such as chicken and beef?

How Much Fish and Meat Cost Per Pound

Salmon fillets average over $8.00 per pound, which is slightly more than beef sirloin. While that’s definitely on the pricy side for everyday groceries, it makes a great, highly nutritious once-in-a-while meal—without the hormones, antibiotics and environmental footprint of farm-raised beef.

When you’re shopping for lean protein, remember that fish is often cheaper than chicken, and swap in seafood for a more balanced diet. The prices can vary between brands, retailers and even geographic location, but in general, you can expect to pay just over $3.00 per pound when buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts at your typical grocery store. That’s about the same as Tilapia fillets, which tend to fall around $3.00 to $3.50 per pound. In addition to Tilapia, cod, catfish, flounder, perch, pollock, sole and snapper can all also be purchased for under $5.00 per pound.

Considering Nutritional Content

When thinking about the costs, remember that it’s not all about how much volume you’re getting. A single serving of fish gives you more nutrition for your money. Chicken is relatively high in cholesterol, and consuming too much red meat can lead to increased cancer risks later on.

And while a serving of chicken or beef gets you neither Vitamin D nor B12, a serving of Tilapia contains both. It also contributes much more folic acid. Because fish is rich in beneficial fatty acids such as omega-3s, it has a long-standing reputation as a food that’s great for the brain, the heart, and the body.

Why Does Tilapia Cost Less Than Meat and Other Fish?

The reason Tilapia is so much more affordable than salmon—and most other fish—is that it’s a lot simpler to raise. Tilapia mature quickly and thrive on a plant-based diet, which means that farming and feeding them is relatively inexpensive.

Of course, this also comes with challenges. Because it’s viewed as such an easy and economically viable business, there are several shoddy Tilapia farmers, mostly in China, who use irresponsible methods, unhealthy feeds and antibiotics when handling their stocks. These compromises can have a range of consequences, from causing off-flavors in the fish to reducing their overall levels of omega-3s.

Choosing the Best Seafood

Thankfully, avoiding low-quality seafood isn’t difficult these days. The Aquaculture Stewardship Council has been auditing fish farms since 2011, ensuring that they comply with the highest professional and environmental standards. If you want to guarantee that the seafood at your local grocery store comes from a producer of good standing, simply check the packaging for certifications or ask your fishmonger. And for any fish purchase, you should always read the labels to see where your fish came from, certification or not.

Photo Credits: Nickola_Che / Shutterstock, Inc., Komarina / Shutterstock, Inc., Regal Springs