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Growing Caviar The Sustainable Way, Finally!!

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Caviar 1The business of caviar production is not for the faint-hearted because it gives no immediate returns. Ask the caviar farmers of California’s Central Valley region, who are just beginning to reap the benefits of years of hard work, thanks to the international ban on caviar exports. The sustainability comes from the fact that the farmers can harvest caviar several times a year thanks to the Californian climate.


1) Sacramento Success Story


Take just one example among the many caviar farms in the region – The Sterling Caviar, which is a sturgeon farm located in the Sacramento County. Sturgeon is the fish whose loins produce the caviar, basically fish eggs. This year, this farm is hoping to produce 18,000 pounds of caviar, which may not look like much if looked at alone but hold it in light of the fact that just 12 years ago, the company was able to harvest only 30 pounds a year, and you begin to see the traces of a success story. Since the Californian climate is perfectly suitable to caviar production, farmers can harvest caviar more than once during the year.


2) Mote Marine Laboratory


Well, it is not just California that is writing the caviar story of America. There are other locations too, which are pitching in with their efforts and one of them is the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. The laboratory was started in 2006 with the sustainable Siberian sturgeon and although it took them a while to find a foothold, today, the Mote’s eggs sell for anything between $1584 and $4200 per kilo. Just last year, they harvest as much as 1.5 metric tons of caviar, which is an encouraging sign. And to know that Napa Valley’s three Michelin-starred Meadow Wood and New York’s Waldorf Astoria are among its clients, is fiercely reassuring.


3) Others are Following TooCaviar 2


Be it South Korea or the UAE, countries other than the US are also jumping into the fray, such is the pull of this delicacy. Initially, in South Korea, the customs officials regarded sturgeons as an alien fish, akin to sharks, what with their prickly looks. Han Sang-hun, who first brought a plane-load of these sturgeons to the country in 1997, explains with amusement, “They (the officials) said if any of them (sturgeons) escaped into the rivers, they would ruin the local ecosystem, attacking and devouring other fish. The sturgeon is a slow-swimming fish with no teeth to speak of.” After spending about a million per year for the next 12 years, he got little by way of return as late as 2009. Explaining this, Han said, “This business is not for everyone. You have to invest for 10 to 15 years with no immediate return.” On the other hand, with the international ban on caviar in place, there is a growing trend of business opportunities in regions hitherto unnoticed, like the UAE.


With more money and efforts being put into this business, in the US and elsewhere, the caviar supply is going to be better in the coming days, no doubt about it. And with so much going for it, the sustainable caviar may finally become a reality.


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Growing Caviar The Sustainable Way, Finally!!