Why Are Scallops So Expensive? Here’s What We Find Out!

Why Are Scallops So Expensive

Scallops are the most beloved and delicious bivalves like their other mollusk cousins, such as oysters, clams, and mussels. Their briny or salty flavor with sweet undertones pairs well with many savory food dishes. And, if you are a fan of seafood, how’s it possible that you are unaware of the taste and mouthfeel of scallops. But unfortunately, to enjoy the unique flavor profile of scallops, you have to pay more than you expected. So, why are scallops so expensive?

Is there any real or good reason why are scallops costly to get? Do all types of scallops are expensive? Actually, there are two common types of scallops on hand, sea scallop and bay scallop.

They are not much different from one another except for the size and tender texture. So, if you want to find out which scallop variety would be cheaper to get and goes best in your favorite dish, read on.

Why Are Scallops So Expensive?

There are 3 reasonable facts for the high price tag of scallops. For instance, it’s difficult to farm scallops, harvesting scallops is expensive and time consuming, and the shelf life of scallops is also short.

Scallops are hard to farm because of their long life cycle. The farming equipment and water tanks or pools cost too high to afford.

Besides farming, it’s also hard to harvest wild scallops. Usually, scallops harvesting is done by dredging, trawling, and raking. However, there are also hand-picked scallops harvested by divers. All these methods are expensive to afford and thus raise the price of scallops.

In addition, the shorter shelf life of scallops is also responsible for their high cost. As soon as scallops come out of sea, they tend to be spoil and go bad. Therefore, the overall preserved export makes scallops so expensive.

Let me explain these facts in a little bit detail to make things clear.

Scallops Are Difficult To Farm

Scallop is a type of shellfish that is actually difficult to farm. And, if you ever go through the farming process of scallops, you can understand how hard to get it on your dining table.

Whenever any food takes too much labor and work to get, it’s price would be high. And that’s a similar case for scallops. Due to their longer life cycle, producers get single scallop crop in nine months.

In addition, scallops need to be checked every now and then to make sure their proper growth.

And their cleaning process is also a time taken and labor-intensive work. Therefore, producers have to prepare an expensive startup to farm scallops continuously to meet high demand.

All these factors certainly make scallops hard to afford and more expensive than one could expect.

Dredge Harvested Scallops

Dredging is the most common way of catching scallops. A typical dredge is a large rectangular-shaped metal net frame used to harvest scallops, clams, and oysters. By dredging the ocean floor, it picks plenty of scallops in one attempt.

But the only downside to this method is that the collected scallops end up being much gritty and thus require entire cleaning.

The ocean floor gets really disturbed, and there’s no quality control over scallops as a dredge also caught immature young scallops that are not pretty good to be harvested.

Besides dredging, raking and trawling are some other ways of harvesting but they are rare and also expensive at the same time.

Hand-picked Scallops

In addition to dredging, scallops are picked up by divers. Although it’s an ocean friendly method but require skill and long hours to work. By the way, diving equipment and oxygen tanks are not cheap and affordable at all.

However, hand picked scallops are more cleaned and mature with a great soft texture and flavor. Since it’s a tiresome and costly procedure, it highly raises the scallop’s price.

High Demand But Limited Supply

Scallops are more satisfying and delicious meal for everyone, but unfortunately, it’s not easy to get it straight to your favorite dish. Demand for tasty scallops is going to increase, but there’s a limited supply for a number of reasons.

The longer life cycle, difficult farming, and invasive ways of catching scallops are answerable for the short scallop supply.

So, the food that is unable to meet the market demands is going to end up with high prices.

Seafood Is Generally Expensive To Get

Ever you noticed that either raw or cooked seafood is characterized by high prices. Whenever you visit the fish market, you’ll take a brief look at their price tags that are always pretty much higher.

The factors such as harvesting, careful exporting, and preserving seafood is a bit costly procedure. And being seafood, scallops are therefore hard to afford.

Scallops Are Expensive For Their Wide Culinary Usage

Scallops go great and yummy in a wide range of delicious cuisines. And being versatile, they find their way in countless fine dining recipes. The soft and tender texture with fine briny flavor is so refreshing and delicious.

Besides their culinary usage, scallops are one of the most nutritious and healthy treats. And that’s a reason you find scallops pricy whenever you want to buy them.

Read Also: Can You Eat Raw Scallops?

Short Shelf Life Keeps Prices Up

The shorter life span is another primary issue. As soon as scallops come out of the ocean water, they tend to be spoil in no time. They have limited time to reach superstores and restaurants where they get their final destination.

So, there’s refrigerated transport is needed to keep them fresh. And you’ll notice that even refrigerated scallops last for a short period of time. It makes more difficult for restaurants and companies to handle their product quality.

And the overall costly preserving equipment again raises prices.

Scallop Variety Also Matters A Lot

If you fall in love with this beloved delicacy, you’ll have a better idea that there’s actually two kinds of scallops. The first is sea or wild scallop being larger and mature with a more delicious mouthfeel. And, another is bay scallop being smaller than a wild variety with a slightly different flavor tone.

Not both these scallops are expensive as bay scallops are a little bit affordable when it comes to price. Bay scallops are easy to get and retrieve because they are in few feet of sea water as compared to wild ones.

However, it doesn’t mean that bay scallops are cheaper to buy, but they are not much pricy products in contrast to sea scallops.

Buying Guide To Get Cheaper Scallops

As an added bonus, we will tell you here some ways of saving money on scallops. These ways will really help you whenever you go to buy scallops.

As you already know that bay scallops are not so expensive as sea scallops. So, as a beginner, you should look for bay scallops as they are little bit cheaper and affordable.

Try to buy scallops when they are in season. As the scallops are the seafood remains good only for short time, so their prices may drop in peak season.

In addition, try to find frozen scallops as they could be best for you. And, if you are very good at cooking and preparing scallops, they work fine for you.

So, remember these facts and follow them whenever you want to enjoy a delicious meal.


As you see in this guide why are scallops so expensive. There’s are a number of reasons for their high prices. For instance, scallops are hard to farm, need to be dredged, cleaned, and transported. And the major issue is their short life span.

These all reasons make scallops costly to purchase and more expensive to afford.