Russian market seeks new sources of black caviar supply

November 13, 2007 16:33

The recent ban of sale of Russian-made sturgeon caviar, forfeit including, on the domestic market has made the nation's restaurants to withdraw wild sturgeon caviar from their menus and think of introducing farmed product and substitutes differing from the traditional product both in taste and quality, according to Vedomosti.

More specifically, Moscow-based Tsar's Game restaurant of Russian cuisine has withdrawn such dishes as sturgeon caviar with butter and pancakes with sturgeon caviar as well as substituted black caviar with salmon caviar in the sauce served with pike perch soufflé. The restaurant's chef says he is not going to replace Russian black caviar with either farmed or imported product because, for instance, the attractive looking Iranian caviar has a sort of herring flavor thus differing much from the traditional Russian product, while the farmed sturgeon caviar is a bit too oily and watery.

At the same time, chef of another Moscow-based restaurant Le Duс is of different opinion insisting that the Iranian sturgeon caviar is much better than Astrakhan competition. In France one half of chefs works with Iranian caviar priced at 2500-3000 Euro per kilo, while the other half of chefs use French caviar which is twice cheaper. However, in Moscow there is no demand for imported sturgeon caviar because its price on the Russian market would exceed that of the national product three times. Director of Sirena, another Moscow restaurant, says that now the prices of the Russian caviar will also grow and the best way-out is to switch to farmed sturgeon caviar.

Igor Bukharov, President of Victuallers and Hoteliers Federation, has totally rejected sturgeon caviar with the product replaced by salmon caviar. In order to support the fight against economic offences when illegally harvested caviar goes on sale under the guise of a forfeit product, Bukharov has advised all his colleagues to follow his example. There is no other way to stop the inflow of infringing goods onto the market, he said.

Evidently, following Europe and the USA, Russia will have to develop sturgeon farming in order to satisfy the domestic demand for black caviar. Moscow-based company La Maree running the same-called restaurant has been purchasing sturgeon caviar farmed by Vologda-based Diana Company. Established some 30 years ago the farm has been engaged in culture of carp and other valuable species. Starting from 2007, when the farm commissioned a sturgeon caviar processing facility, Diana has become one of Russia's largest producers of farmed black caviar both in terms of product quality and output, according to La Maree's President and Owner Medi Duss.

Farmed sturgeon caviar is not inferior to wild Caspian sturgeon product either in taste or in quality, said Medi Duss. It is even more ecologically-pure and healthier than its wild rival. The farmers strictly control purity of water, stocking density and fish feeding. In the meantime, the ecological situation in the Caspian Sea is on the brink of catastrophe.

Besides, sturgeon caviar produced by Russian farmers costs ca.30,000 RUB per kilo, which is several times cheaper than the European product. Even China, which has been exporting farmed black caviar since 2006, cannot make a better offer than the Russian farmers.

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