Abalone is a rare and luxurious delicacy that comes with a hefty price tag. It is a type of sea snail that must be collected by hand from the ocean, and its rarity and difficulty of obtaining it are two of the main reasons for its high cost. Additionally, the luxury label attached to it, such as Wagyu beef or caviar, drives up the price. Abalone is also heavy, with one kilo caught translating to approximately 250 grams of meat.
The trade in abalone is thought to be the most criminalized wildlife trade in Africa and is fraught with complex socio-cultural problems. The delicacy of abalone can be found all over the United States, even in places where you don't fish. It is considered a delicacy in Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine, both fresh and dried. The value of abalone comes from both its delicious flesh and its polished shell, a beautiful iridescent blue shell of mother of pearl.
In Japan, abalone dishes can cost real fortunes, as it is known as the “sea truffle”. As demand has skyrocketed, abalone has been called “white gold” due to its high prices and the color of its pearl under the flesh. Unfortunately, many countries are plagued by illegal fishing (poaching) for abalone. The first South African export of abalone was recorded in 1953, indicating the long history of the abalone trade between South Africa and Asia. Reportedly, abalone tastes delicious, with a texture similar to that of squid, only on a larger scale.
If people feel rich and their income increases year after year, they are more inclined to splurge and ask for good abalone.