When you find yourself at a fancy restaurant, you may notice duck on the menu.
It will likely stand out as a rare protein option compared to what you see on most menus.
No matter how it’s prepared, it’s usually significantly more expensive than comparable chicken or beef dishes.
Why is duck more pricey than other meats?
We will cover the top 10 reasons duck is so expensive.
Why Is Duck So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
Duck meat is considered “white meat” like other poultry, such as chicken and goose, despite the high oxygen levels making the meat darker than other white meats.
It’s also rather pungent compared to other meat matched with an equally strong flavor that many people love.
You can cook duck as a whole duck, but you’ll get better results if you cook the breast and legs separately.
Most people buy the specific parts of the duck they want:
Two types of ducks are used for meat consumption, and they have subtleties that make them unique.
Muscovy: A heavy, dark duck with a “duckier” flavor.
Pekin: Duck that is known for being extremely delicious. An American breed descended from ducks brought from China in the 1800s, this is the most common type of duck sold for consumption.
There are other breeds of duck out there, but these two types of duck have the best-tasting meat.
Duck gets tougher with age, so most farmers harvest the meat at the earliest opportunity.
You can harvest a duck once you can’t feel many pin feathers.
Pin feathers are developing feathers that grow in infancy or after molting.
As the name suggests, they are sharp like a pin.
They can also hurt the bird if you break them unnecessarily.
The feathers will break on their own.
If you want to remove the pin feathers more quickly, you can drench them in water by bathing the duckling.
The ages at which you can harvest ducks are:
- 7 to 8 weeks (tenderest)
- 12 weeks (tender)
- 18 to 19 weeks (not as tender)
2. Production Costs
Ducks cost more to raise than other animals, such as chickens.
Since it costs more to raise the young ducks, the expenses are reflected in the final price.
It starts with the cost of the ducks when farmers go to buy younglings.
Keep in mind, if you plan to breed the ducks, that it’s very difficult to determine the sex of ducklings.
Pekin ducklings cost $3.86 each for orders of 1,300 ducklings, and Cornish chicks cost $1.85 for orders of 100 chicks.
As you can see, ducklings cost about two times more than chicks.
You can also get a lower number of chicks for a bulk rate compared to ducklings.
After you buy the ducks, you need to store them somewhere.
It takes up to three times as much space to house ducks compared to chickens.
A large part of the reason that ducks require more space involves their bowel movements.
They need plenty of space for their runny waste.
While chicks don’t require as much space, it may require more effort from you since you’ll need to build roost bars for them.
Ducks also take longer to mature to market size.
Ducks take 14.3% longer to grow than chickens (49 days compared to 42).
While a week doesn’t seem like a long time, it costs a lot of money to feed and shelter ducks for a week, especially when talking in terms of mass production.
When it comes to feeding ducks compared to chickens, ducks require about 1.2 times as much feed as chickens to get up to market weight.
While the feed for the two animals is quite similar, ducks benefit from an added level of niacin.
Adding niacin to the feed can raise the price even more.
While all these factors play a significant role in the increased cost of duck, the largest impact comes from the increased effort involved in processing a duck compared to processing a chicken.
Ducks have a lot more feathers than chickens, so it takes a lot more time to remove the feathers to make the carcass suitable for buyers.
It costs about $9.50 to process a duck, and it only costs about $3.50 to process a chicken.
Once you’re done with the entire process, you still get more meat out of a chicken, since ducks have especially thick bones.
A five-pound duck will only serve about two or three people, but a chicken the same size can feed five to seven people.
3. Low Demand
Americans haven’t caught on to the deliciousness of duck as much as other places in the world.
There is only limited demand for duck in America.
Since there is a low demand for duck, duck production is simultaneously lower, as well.
Duck consumption in America is getting even lower over the years.
We currently consume 0.34 lb. of duck per person a year in America, down from 0.44 lb. in 1986.
For comparison, the average American eats almost 100 pounds of chicken every year.
Since the demand is relatively low in America, it adds to the production costs even more since farmers can’t lower costs by producing in bulk as they can with chicken.
China consumes the most duck of any country.
In China, you will find duck at most casual establishments, street vendors, and high-end restaurants.
You can also find duck on the menu quite regularly in France.
In France, the menu items involving duck tend to be a little more upscale.
In America, you will usually only find duck in fancy establishments.
Why Is Demand For Duck So Low?
One of the main reasons demand for duck is so low is that farmers prefer to raise other feed animals for meat.
Also, many people hesitate to try duck since it isn’t as common as other meats.
Plus, the strong flavor can contribute to people’s hesitation.
4. Sold At High-End Restaurants
Most of the time in America, you will find duck on the menu at high-end restaurants.
When you walk into one of these restaurants, you already expect to pay more than normal just because of the restaurant’s reputation.
Part of the expense goes toward creating a beautiful ambiance for the guests by providing nice tables settings and decor.
High-quality ingredients make up a large part of the cost of the food at these establishments.
They only buy the best pieces of meat.
They also pair the duck with other high-quality ingredients.
High-End Duck Dishes
Some of the duck items you may find on the menu include:
- Pečená kachna: roasted duck from the Czech Republic
- Zhangcha duck: Chinese smoked duck served on a bun
- Duck rice: roasted or braised duck mixed with white rice from Singapore
- Bebek goreng: Indonesian fried duck
- Magret de canard: French flash-seared duck breast
- Confit de canard: French slow-roasted duck cooked in its own fat
- Peking duck: golden, crispy high-quality duck from China
As you can see, many of the dishes come from different cultures.
You can also find roasted or fried duck on American menus made per the chef’s recommendations.
Fast Food Duck
The fast-food chain Arby’s tried to release a fast-food duck sandwich with crispy onions and a cherry sauce.
While an undoubtedly interesting menu option, the sandwich didn’t stick.
Most people looking for a quick sandwich on the way home or from one job to a second job don’t expect such a high-end offering and will likely prefer to go with a more familiar option when pressed.
People already familiar with duck will have higher expectations.
While it may seem intimidating at first, you can cook duck at home by yourself.
Most people don’t attempt to cook duck since they don’t know what to do with it.
It can be intimidating.
However, with a little knowledge, cooking duck will become as familiar as cooking chicken.
Unlike chicken and turkey, it’s not best to cook a whole duck as one item, no matter how much easier it is.
A duck breast is finished cooking when it reaches 135°F to 140°F.
You can pan sauté a duck breast with a high likelihood of success.
You always want to cook the meat with the skin side down.
Thighs and legs need to cook until they reach temperatures of 165°F to 175°F, and most chefs suggest braising this part of the bird.
Many people use duck fat in cooking for its flavor.
You can save the fat and use it to fry or deep fry items for your meal.
Whatever you do, don’t pour the fat down your kitchen sink as it can create a clog.
Handling Duck Meat
It’s important to store duck in the fridge as soon as possible.
Before you put the duck into the fridge, you should wipe it down and cover it loosely with foil.
You may want to put the duck on the sheet tray so that it can catch any juices that drip out of the meat.
The duck will only remain good for no more than two days.
Duck goes bad more quickly than other meats, especially the duck liver.
As you will probably notice as soon as you bite down into the meat, duck is a fatty and tasty meat.
However, how nutritious is it?
See the following nutritional facts about duck compared to chicken:
Clearly, duck contains much more fat and calories, which is helpful for several different dietary needs.
However, most Americans must limit the amount of duck they consume so that they don’t gain weight.
Duck is heartier than chicken, so you won’t need to eat as large of a portion to feel full.
Duck also contains more iron and magnesium than chicken.
Iron is important in human development as it supports the growth and reproduction of red blood cells.
When you have healthy blood, you will have more energy.
Finally, consuming duck gives your body a lot of protein that it needs to remain active and healthy.
One portion of duck can give you 50% of the protein you need for an entire day.
Pekin duck is known for its great flavor.
Traditionally, after a lengthy and painstaking preparation process, the duck is carved in front of the guests.
First, the crispy skin is removed and served with a special sauce.
The skin is especially crisp and tasty.
If you like the less flavorful skin of turkey and chicken, you will absolutely love the skin of duck.
After that, the chef will cut slices of meat and serve them at the table.
In most cases, people prefer the duck breast to other cuts of meat.
However, some people like the richer flavor.
The flavor itself is strong and has sometimes been compared to liver thanks to the high fat and iron content.
The flavor comes from the fat, so it’s important not to remove any of the fat, as you might do with other meats.
8. Foie gras
Foie gras is a popular high-end dish made out of duck (or goose) liver.
The duck liver is a delicacy that most people only eat on very special occasions.
Foie gras costs $40 to $80 per pound, and restaurants sell it for a considerable markup.
In many cases, farmers will force-feed the ducklings to get the fatty liver that people want when they order foie gras, making it a controversial order.
In fact, it’s even illegal in 16 countries.
If you do want to try it for yourself, you can order it in restaurants throughout the United States (even though you can’t produce foie gras in California, and a ban in New York takes effect in 2022).
Animal Rights Group Involvement
When looking into the practice of making foie gras, you will learn that the farmers feed the ducks to the point that the liver swells up to 10 times its natural size and becomes diseased in a process referred to as “gavage”.
It’s what many experts refer to as “aggressively cruel”.
The animal can’t possibly live like that without being in a lot of pain.
In many cases, the animal can’t even walk or breathe properly thanks to the obscene obesity.
Animal rights groups rightfully wanted to shed light on the cruel practices of making delicious duck liver so that people might stop ordering it.
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with these efforts.
Some chefs feel that they can no longer provide a delicious dish, and they don’t want other meats to be taken off the menu next.
Plus, the attention may have only intrigued some consumers.
Plus, people will pay more for something if it’s controversial to eat.
The action has only added to the price.
We may eventually be able to come to an understanding.
One farm in Spain develops foie gras in a cruelty-free way that may allow everyone to enjoy the delicious treat without the guilt.
9. Special Occasions
In America, if we do decide to get fancy and serve duck, it’s usually a special occasion, such as Christmas.
Instead of ham, many people get a Christmas duck or Christmas goose for everyone to enjoy as a special treat during one of the best times of the year.
Whenever anything is for Christmas or another special occasion, people go all out.
They are willing to spend the extra money to make memories that will last and show their love through high-quality meat.
Many stores increase the price a little bit for the holidays knowing that the demand will be higher and people will be in a more generous spirit.
Cooking Duck For Thanksgiving/Christmas
If serving duck for Thanksgiving or Christmas, it’s a good idea to offer a secondary meat for people who may not like duck.
You should cook the duck as we mentioned before and pair it with a variety of seasonal sides, such as yams and squash.
10. Benefits Of Ducks
It may seem as though a lot of the increased price of duck comes from the difficulty of raising ducks compared to chickens or turkeys.
However, you will also see a lot of value in working with ducks.
First, ducks don’t produce nearly as much of an odor on the farm.
The meat may smell more pungent, but the animal itself doesn’t create that much smell.
You can also trust that duck meat won’t contain any parasites.
You can even eat duck raw without worrying about getting sick.
Chicken, on the other hand, does not come with that same guarantee.
Especially after the recent health crisis, people prefer to buy food that can’t get them sick, and they are willing to pay more for it.
Duck is a delicacy in the United States thanks to its decadently high fat content, rich flavor, and difficulty to raise compared to chickens and turkeys.
When you find your favorite duck dish, though, you can learn how to make it yourself at home with the right training.
Share your meal with other people so that they can discover how great duck is, too.
If more people eat duck, the price may go down a bit.
Keep eating duck (just not foie gras)!