Trends on the Ukrainian caviar market

September 20, 2007 12:57

Despite being a traditional delicatessen product, in the near future specialists forecast a lack of black and red caviar on the market which cannot but influence prices of the products.

Vyacheslav Layevsky, Director of Capital Company engaged in caviar packing told SEICHAS magazine that due to stricter rules for salmon caviar import from Russia, the price for the product will grow at least by 3-4 USD per kilo already by the New Year holidays. Besides, market analysts forecast a price rise for illegal salmon caviar accounting, according to some estimates, for ca.50% of the total supply of the product on the Ukrainian market.

At present the purchase price for salmon caviar amounts to approximately 35.5 USD per kilo, according to Layevsky. Starting from August when the fishing season was at full swing, the product has already appreciated by 10%. There are several reasons behind that. Apart from supply factors, the current requirements to salmon caviar shipments from Russia have grown stricter. For instance, shipments by air are now prohibited. The market operators have been reporting a shortage of salmon caviar supplies in Moscow which has been regarded a transshipment hub for the product.

According to Layevsky, practically all the black caviar is delivered to the Ukraine illegally. While until recently the product has been purchased in Russia as goods seized from poachers, now the Government of the Russian Federation has found a method to prevent such legalization of black caviar on the market.

Some sturgeon species are listed in the Red Book of the Ukraine and the commercial harvest of those species is prohibited. Maria Kolesnik, head of analytical department of the AAA Consulting Agency, quoted by the report, said that the Ukrainian companies do not produce caviar, instead they order such products from plants located in other countries, mostly in Russia. And their labels most often say that the products have been made to the order of this or that Ukrainian company.

For instance, Konstantin Demiyanenko from Azov Centre YuzhNIRO (AzYuzhNIRO) and Tatiana Yakovleva, main specialist of the Fisheries Department of the Ukrainian Ministry of Agricultural Policy said that the former abundance of sturgeons in the Azov-Black Sea basin (until the beginning of 1990 the sturgeon harvest would reach 300 metric tons per year) is in the past and the commercial operations on the sturgeon grounds are prohibited. They also say that now the Ukraine annually farms no more than 20 metric tons of market-size sturgeons, while sturgeon caviar is not produced at all.

However, now both salmon and sturgeon caviar are available in retail outlets. Prices for salmon caviar amount to ca.240 hryvnias (48 USD) per kilo in bulk and ca.30 hryvnias (6 USD) per 100-gram can, while black caviar fetch from 800 hryvnias (160 USD) per kilo of beluga caviar and from 600 hryvnias (120 USD) per kilo of sturgeon caviar, according to the magazine.

As an alternative to red and black caviar some producers offer more abundant caviar of capelin, cod, herring and other marine species. Sevastopol-based Probioprom has developed black and red caviar Alginovaya made from delicatessen fish species (salmons), sodium alginate from laminaria, natural colorants, sodium glutamate and sodium chloride with ascorbic acid.

Experts forecast a shortage of caviar products on the market in the short-term outlook. They think in retail network caviar will fetch very high prices. The world practice of black caviar trade knows examples when a ban of black caviar sales has resulted into its illegal sales via internet shops. Such method has already been practiced in Russia and it will probably be used in the Ukraine as well.

Legal comment

The Ukrainian customs tariffs provide for a 10% import duty for fish caviar (from any species). At the same time, the national legislation provides for some restrictions as to distribution of the product category. More specifically, the Ukraine has joined the CITES restricting sturgeon trade (import and export), caviar inclusive. In pursuance of the convention the Ukrainian Cabinet has signed order No.1822 dated 13 December 2000 according to which exportation and importation of sturgeon species and their products are allowed only subject to certification of the State Fisheries Department of the Ukraine.

A mutual order of the Ministry of Ecology and Ministry of Agricultural Policy has approved the Rules of issuing permits and import certificates and exportation of the endangered species falling within the CITES jurisdiction. More specifically, under the Rules an import permit is granted only subject to an export permit issued by the responsible body of the exporter country.

According to the letter of the Ukrainian Fisheries Department No.30-1-11-5/14 from 11 January 2006, in the year 2006 the country introduced a ban of international trade in wild sturgeon caviar. Until extra interpretation by the Convention's Secretariat any international operations with wild sturgeon caviar should be restricted and all the products coming from countries harvesting sturgeons should be considered illegal even despite presence of accompanying certificates.

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