Sea Urchin Markets

Japan is the world's largest consumer of sea urchin as well as the largest producer (followed by the US and China). The value derived from a sea urchin is for its roe, known as uni. Different roe quality serves different market segments. High grade sea urchin roe is considered a luxury item where color, texture and uniformity is important. Medium grade sea urchin roe are cured or flavored and packed in glass jars and the lowest quality is processed into chinmi, which are mixtures of roe and other seafood products. Hong Kong is the second largest importer of fresh sea urchin roe from the U.S. after Japan.

Alaska's sea urchin dive fishery dropped from a high of $1.8 million (USD) in 1996–97 to close to zero in 2006, when the last remaining sea urchin processor ceased operations. Only an artisanal fishery remains.

The overall objective of this project was to conduct market feasibility of shelf-stable sea urchin roe product in Asia.

Uni and Selected Shellfish Products in Japan and Hong Kong: An Update [PDF; 1.7 MB]

For more information on this project:

Quentin S.W. Fong, Marketing Specialist

(907) 486-1516