The cost of a California roll isn’t what it used to be.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated June 30, 2017
california roll
Credit: Paul Poplis / Getty Images

If any college students reading this are still debating between a career in food or economics, do we have the answer for you: Sushinomics! Yes, different analysts love to track different products to get a sense of changes in living costs. One annual list looks at the price of Thanksgiving dinner. The Economist has its Big Mac Index. Deutsche Bank prefers to look at the cost of beer and cigarettes. But for the past six years, Bloomberg has decided to keep an eye on what it’s dubbed “Sushinomics” – the price of sushi rolls in 25 cities across the US.

So what does the 2017 Sushinomics Index tell us? Well, the price of sushi is going up… 2.3 percent over the past year. That’s significant seeing as inflation in general was just 0.9 percent, and even consumer prices only rose 1.9 percent over the same period. According to the annual survey which specifically looks at the average cost of California and spicy tuna rolls, expect to now pay $6.99 for one of these rolls on average at restaurants throughout the country.

However, the more interesting numbers come from looking at individual cities. New York retains the top spot for most expensive rolls with a mean price of $8.72. That’s over half a buck higher that the second most expensive city, Los Angeles, where an average roll will set you back $8.16. Meanwhile, Miami was the biggest mover on the list. Sushi prices in the Florida city jumped 10 percent, landing it in third place with an average price of $8.15.

Looking for cheap fish? Try New Orleans. At just $5.40 per roll, the city on the Gulf finished last among the 25 areas Bloomberg follows. The only other city where the average cost of a roll is under $6? That would be Wilmington/Dover, Delaware. Sounds like a tough choice for those planning an inexpensive sushi vacation.

“While sushi is just one item in a broad price index and it’s responsive to conditions in the fish market, it’s also a loose proxy for how far a dollar is going in different cities across the nation,” Bloomberg explains. If that’s so, then congratulations to the Phoenix/Tempe area: At $7, you have the most average-priced sushi rolls. Pretty good deal, considering what it takes to get fresh fish in the desert.