Why Bird's Nest Soup Is So Expensive | So Expensive

  • Published on Feb 25, 2019
  • Bird's nest soup is a delicacy in Asia made from the dissolved nests of swiftlets, a small bird native to Southeast Asia. A bowl of bird's nest soup can cost more than $100 at some restaurants, due to growing demand and a limited number of wild birds. The soup is popular in China, where it's believed to have healing properties. We stopped by the Oriental Garden in NYC's Chinatown to taste it for ourselves.
    Following is a transcript of the video:
    Narrator: Bird nest soup. It's a gelatinous mixture, made from, you guessed it, bird nests. You can find it on the menu at certain Chinese restaurants like at Oriental Garden, here in New York City. But it'll cost you.
    Cici: For one person it costs $32.95, and for four people it costs $128.
    Abby: And that's normal pricing?
    Cici: Yeah, that's totally normal.
    Abby: Wow.
    Narrator: So, what makes it so expensive? People in China have been eating bird nests for more than a thousand years. It's believed to have near magical properties, from curing cancer to helping children grow taller.
    And the main ingredient? The partially dissolved nest of a swiftlet, a small bird native to Southeast Asia. Three times a year, swiftlets build nests out of their sticky saliva on cave walls and cliff sides, where they raise their young. It's the high cost of these saliva nests that makes bird's nest soup so expensive.
    Here in New York City's Chinatown, for example, a couple dozen were selling for more than a thousand dollars.
    Until recently, the most common way of getting the nests was by harvesting them from the wild.
    Creighton: There are many dangers involved in harvesting nests from caves. They would climb up without really any safety nets or harnesses, that kind of thing, and just try and extract the nests from the cave wall, and they'd be, in some cases, many stories up.
    Narrator: But for many, the risk was worth the reward.
    Creighton: Harvesters would often try and collect as many nests as they could, regardless of whether they were fully formed, and they would just take them repeatedly.
    Narrator: In some regions, swiftlets couldn't compete with the rate of harvest, and so their populations plummeted. Between 1957 and 1997, the number of swiftlets declined by as much as 88% in parts of Southeast Asia, largely due to over-harvesting. And as a result, the price of bird's nests skyrocketed.
    Creighton: The price for bird nests, I would say, peaked in around the early 1990s.
    Narrator: Around that time, nests were selling for up to $1,000 a pound. Adjusting for inflation, that would be around $2,000 today. Those high prices earned bird nests the title "Caviar of the East."
    And they also fueled a new industry. You could call it hospitality.
    Scores of people across Southeast Asia looking to cash in on the bird nest trade started investing in swiftlet hotels.
    Creighton: People just found that if there was a vacant building or, say, the upper story of a building was uninhabited, then swiftlets would make their way inside, and they would start just using the buildings as their nesting sites. Then these rumors kind of emerged over time about how much money you could make swiftlet farming really overnight.
    Narrator: And they weren't just rumors. In Myanmar, for example, swiftlet hotels can bring in at least $6,000 a year, while the average annual income is just over $1,100. And the more swiftlets you draw in, the more money you make.
    George: According to locals, in order to successfully farm for the bird's nests, there are a few factors involved.
    Factor one: The locals believe that abundance is related to charity. The more charitable and kind they are to the community, the more the birds will come to build nests in their houses.
    Factor two: technology. To attract the swiftlets to build nests, the house keepers have to employ the right technology using speakers to continuously broadcast the correct frequency of the chirping swiftlets at the optimum volume.
    Factor three: they believe in showing care and concern to the swiftlets. They will be careful not to harvest the nests if there are eggs in the nests.
    Narrator: In the last few decades, the swiftlet farming industry has exploded. From 1998 to 2013, the estimated number of swiftlet hotels grew from 900 to 60,000 in Malaysia alone. But while this increased supply, it didn't exactly slash the price. That's because in the last couple of decades or so, demand has also increased.
    #Birds #Soup #BusinessInsider
    Business Insider tells you all you need to know about business, finance, tech, retail, and more.
    Subscribe to our channel and visit us at: read.bi/7XqUHI
    BI on Facebook: read.bi/2xOcEcj
    BI on Instagram: read.bi/2Q2D29T
    BI on Twitter: read.bi/2xCnzGF
    Why Bird's Nest Soup Is So Expensive | So Expensive

Comments • 1 527

  • odinsssson
    odinsssson 16 days ago

    they are so primitive !!

  • Brick Life
    Brick Life 16 days ago

    I got a box of these for free

  • Brick Life
    Brick Life 16 days ago

    They taste so good

  • Emre C
    Emre C 18 days ago

    Another Chinese superstition!

  • Chrono-Glitch WaterLily

    Why is anything expensive?


    THIỀU QUANG VƯƠNG 24 days ago

    you paying $1 per bowl for bird in Binh Phuoc Viet Nam, bird 20% of 70mml in bowl

  • some guy on the internet

    Hopefully there's not a food shortage other wise Chinese are going to be eating Chinese people

  • D’ CHAOS
    D’ CHAOS 29 days ago

    I already tasted this it’s kinda weird and the taste is not as exotic as I have thought kinda taste like water but overall it’s a nice soup

  • Lil Twinkie
    Lil Twinkie Month ago

    Ewwww wtf haha

    WHITE LION Month ago

    This narrator guy, that sounds like Terry from Reno 911, is the reason I prefer CNBC videos instead. Why do they hire these people?

  • Dimaz
    Dimaz Month ago

    I’d spit on your food for free

  • Dimaz
    Dimaz Month ago

    Bird saliva soup, luwak / civet shit coffee, black (blood) pudding & sausage.. I wonder what other nasty animal stuff that people consume?

  • Kelley Frye
    Kelley Frye Month ago

    Really? Yuck!

  • You are gei
    You are gei Month ago

    Gonna keep my ramen

  • GameWatch
    GameWatch Month ago

    I guess a list of what Chinese don't eat doesn't exist!
    DRY SPIT 🤢

  • Mario S.
    Mario S. Month ago

    Asian Chinese would eat anything including dogs and cats.

  • Megatron X
    Megatron X Month ago

    You can get those benefits from other foods. Why eat it from a spit nest a bird spent so long making to survive x.x

  • Trash Crab
    Trash Crab Month ago

    Ya I think I’ll keep with my French onion

  • Angelina Ar
    Angelina Ar Month ago

    we have a lot of those building here

  • Solo Traveller
    Solo Traveller Month ago

    Humans are too hungry, one day they will eat this earth also, then nothing left.

  • Mir Green
    Mir Green Month ago

    So if i go hunt these nests i can come up on alot of money

  • Yutube SuspendedMyAccount

    Just curious who was the first idiot that came up with the idea that bird nests have magical power...

  • a_smol_bean _
    a_smol_bean _ Month ago

    I know where that is 0:13

  • Keira Potato
    Keira Potato Month ago

    I bought it from a store today that always sells those and it’s for $285 US dollars
    And I bought it from Canal St or Chinatown
    And also I am a Chinese person

  • sybol chris
    sybol chris Month ago


  • Cup No0o0odles
    Cup No0o0odles Month ago +1

    1:01 "its the high cost of these saliva nests that makes bird's nest soup so expensive..."
    Mhmm, gotcha

  • Bigs Yeah
    Bigs Yeah Month ago

    Its so sought after because its a status symbol like sharks fin soup.

  • Dr Teddy
    Dr Teddy Month ago +1

    The theme of ALL of these videos, "they are expensive because of over harvesting"

  • Ramer Bico
    Ramer Bico Month ago +1

    GUYs Bird nest are not actually expensive in my county its only 1$ for two bowl

  • LeVelle Coley
    LeVelle Coley Month ago +1

    Sooooooo humanity has gone so low that they find bird spit as a food huh? 🙄

    • Lingling Jiang
      Lingling Jiang Month ago

      LeVelle Coley Sooooooo humanity has gone so low that they find sexual gamete of chicken as food huh? 🙄

  • elchamber
    elchamber Month ago

    My poop has magical properties too. Wanna buy?

  • sarika love
    sarika love Month ago


  • Muhammad Abdullah
    Muhammad Abdullah Month ago

    Can you people create a demand?
    Well thanks china..you give many people opportunity hope and job..

  • minjinhearteu
    minjinhearteu Month ago

    Malaysia has two parts lol

  • Pete Brown
    Pete Brown Month ago

    Now, that's nasty

  • sTechBucket
    sTechBucket Month ago

    The horrible the garbage, more expensive and more in demand it is as food in China.

  • Pedro Joubert
    Pedro Joubert Month ago

    This crap gotto stop this people eating all type of shit that's out ,mixed in something green some onions and its good and delicious wtf stop it nasty😩

  • Hyptex
    Hyptex Month ago +1

    Birds: Makes house out of sticks with spit
    Humans: Lets eat it

  • Jony Garcia
    Jony Garcia Month ago

    1:08 subie gang 🤩

  • Neli Borba
    Neli Borba Month ago

    Harvesting bird nests? It is not good for the ecosystem.

  • Sergeant Rainstorm
    Sergeant Rainstorm Month ago

    In my experience, Bird’s nest tastes and feels like shit

  • The Owl from Duolingo

    I cant put into words how stupid this is. Poor workers risk their lifes on a daily basis just to destroy birds‘ nests that are made of saliva. These conditions lead to a (kind of) extinction of a species. Damn, I don’t like to say it but some cultures and traditions are just toxic these days.

  • Serko Moryasi
    Serko Moryasi Month ago

    How come asians are not tall than? And just the fact that it’s spit, I’ll pass.

  • sippa dagirou
    sippa dagirou Month ago

    the gambino family should surely muscle in

    RAT BURL BEER Month ago

    Surprised they don’t have bird shit soup 😏

  • Tim Drake
    Tim Drake Month ago

    Bird Nest soup tastes so good tho

  • JonasRobloxTroll :3

    i ate it before and it's disgusting

  • Loki
    Loki Month ago

    the whole world became insane

  • Allen Phan
    Allen Phan Month ago

    I eat it everyday as a snack. Next to house, our neighbor used to feed them so they came back and build their nest. My parents actually have a hotel so bird nest are easy to come by. Didn't know it was that expensive.

    DOPEITSALEX Month ago

    *terrible comment alert* Like if HQ brought you here 🍉🍉

  • OkayxAnne
    OkayxAnne Month ago

    My mom feeds me this every night and i honestly thought it was gross in a way but it just tasted sweet with jello texture

  • Bazooka Llama Productions

    NO!!! you can NOT say "one study found" without listing your sources for us to review. dont you dare try to pull that.

    • Agatha jay
      Agatha jay Month ago +1

      That's what people do these days. And people just believe them

  • Bazooka Llama Productions

    lemme guess, its an asian thing, and they make things extinct because they think its got powers?
    now i see why my racist grandpa dislikes chinese people.

  • বাতাবি লেবুর ফলন

    There's something wrong with Asian cuisine, They're destroying a good chunk of wildlife! *These Bird's for their nest, Rhino's for their horn's, shark's for their fin's, Whale for their meat, frogs for their legs, Cobra, Fugu, insects...*

  • Anik Kundu
    Anik Kundu Month ago +1

    Eating birds is ok but eating their nests...that's a bit crazy

  • satya narayan
    satya narayan Month ago

    So first we ate birds, and now their nests!!! Humans 👏👏

  • Kathaleen Wood
    Kathaleen Wood Month ago

    Bird Spit.

  • SodaraPabjieh
    SodaraPabjieh Month ago

    Oh look,a subie

  • valerie bailey
    valerie bailey Month ago

    Honestly. Im kinda chinese and i hate how there are these 'exotic' foods. The species are going extinct just because of human consumption

  • Perk Assett
    Perk Assett Month ago

    Thats disgusting