As an Amazon affiliate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.
Why is cod expensive?

Why is Codfish So Expensive?

Cod is the most popular white fish in the world. It is flaky and has a dense mild flavor, popularly used in fish and chips meals. 

Since the meaty fillet is firm, it can be used in a variety of recipes that call for grilling, broiling, and baking. 

However, codfish is known to be quite expensive. What makes this popular coldwater fish more expensive than other similar white fish?

Due to environmental issues and years of unregulated overfishing, codfish stocks declined rapidly, leading to tightened regulations and quantity limitations. In recent years, this has led to a drop in supply and unyielding global demand that has led to soaring prices of the popular white fish.

Read on for more about codfish habitats and fillet prices you should be expecting in the fish market.

What Does Codfish Look Like? 

It’s certainly a colorful fish.

Codfish generally have a greenish to brown color with a lighter underbelly. Other color variations include grey-green and red-brown. 

Both have three dorsal fins, two anal fins, and a pair of pectoral fins. When made into fillets, it is usually firm, meaty, and white. 

Atlantic cod can grow up to 2 meters in length and weigh up to 12kgs. Codfish start reproducing at 2 to 3 years old and can live up to 20 years. 

They spawn in winter through early spring on the ocean floor and are top predators in the bottom ocean community.

Where Does Cod Come From? 

Cod is a saltwater fish that prefers cold climates. It is naturally abundant in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 

These two are also the most common types of codfish in the market. The Atlantic cod comes from Russia, Norway, and Iceland. 

The Pacific cod is mainly found in Alaska and is the second-most abundant white fish globally. 

In the US, cod is most common on Georges Bank and in the western Gulf of Maine. 

Additionally, China has a 32% global market share for codfish. It is the biggest exporter of codfish in the world.

However, both the Atlantic and Pacific codfish have been declining in stocks over the years. Due to overfishing in the 20th century, codfish stocks in places such as the Gulf of Maine have been depleting. 

There have been several attempts to repopulate the waters through tightly regulated fishing laws.

Why is Codfish So Popular? 

Codfish is preferred by many culinary experts worldwide because it has a great flavor that complements any dish that it is paired with. 

It is versatile and leaves room for new recipes and experimentation. The cod fillet is also meaty and flaky and high in protein but low in fat. It, therefore, comes in handy as a healthier protein alternative for less healthy foods such as red meat. 

Additionally, apart from providing Omega-3 fatty acids, it is a rich source of vitamins E, A, and C as well as B-6 and B-12. Traditionally, codfish was a common meal in many homes. 

Cape Cod is named after the fish because it was so abundant back then. However, due to recent scarcity, codfish is becoming more of a luxury than a staple. 

Average Codfish Price in the US 

Codfish costs about $5.34 per pound in the US market. This price may vary slightly depending on several factors such as the source of fish, demand vs supply, location, etc.

Codfish market

Why is Codfish So Expensive? 

1. Low Supply

Due to overfishing and other unsustainable fishing practices, especially in the 20th century, codfish is in low supply.  

Regulations to curb overfishing mean that only a small amount makes it to fish markets. 

However, the popularity of the white fish has not gone down. This drop in supply and an unyielding market demand leads to raised prices.

2. Declining Stocks

Due to overfishing, codfish stocks have been declining. As consumers become aware of reducing stock numbers, they drive up the demand by increasing purchases. 

The stock numbers cannot support the prevailing demand. Tough regulations have also made it hard for fisheries to haul large quantities of codfish. This has contributed to the higher prices of codfish.

3. High in Protein

Codfish is popular because it is high in protein and can be used by many families around the world for main meals. 

It can also be paired with different types of carbohydrates and greens because it has a versatile flavor that blends well with most pairings. 

This has made it a popular choice at the fish market, further raising its demand.

4. Tight Fishing Regulations

Codfish was very popular in the 20th century. Due to high demand and lack of regulation, stocks declined rapidly. 

In response, government bodies around the world have come up with restrictions on fishing quantities. 

The US has a joint collaboration with Canada to protect stocks from depletion and even extinction. Some of the joint efforts include closures of spawning areas during the winter, minimum fish size to prevent fishing of younglings, and data-backed annual catch limits. 

These limitations stifle production and push demand even higher, leading to price increases.

5. Health Benefits Marketing

Codfish contains numerous vitamins and minerals as well as Omega-3 fatty acids. 

Vitamins such as vitamin B-12 are important for brain development. A regular codfish diet can help to incorporate the required nutrients for healthy eating. 

Where to Buy Fresh Codfish 

To get fresh codfish, it is best to check out online sites such as American Sea Foods. They stock fresh codfish. They offer fillets or even whole, ungutted codfish for sale.

Read Also: Why are Gluten-Free Products So Expensive?

Cod Alternatives 

For something just as tasty as codfish, here are some alternatives that have just as many benefits;


Salmon is a global favorite that is packed with Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, among other vitamins. 

Additionally, it has a large serving of protein and works great as a main meal. Wild-caught salmon is among the healthiest fish in the world.

Salmon can be eaten raw or cooked and is a favorite for sushi fans.


Haddock is a high protein, low-calorie, low mercury fish. It is more flavourful and fishy, but it’s less firm compared to cod and is not suited for the grill. However, haddock is more pocket-friendly. 


Rockfish is a mild-flavored white fish popular in Asia and America. It is sometimes referred to as rock cod and served in traditionally cod dishes such as fish and chips.