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Why is caviar so expensive?

Caviar is a delicacy that is sold to consumers at very high prices. However, we can ask ourselves why caviar is so expensive.

Caviar and sturgeon

Let’s first take a look at the sturgeon, the wonderful fish that produces caviar from its eggs. The sturgeon appeared 400,000 million years ago. There are 27 species. It is a cartilaginous fish, without scales, and its exquisite flesh is completely boneless. They live in coastal waters at sea and swim up rivers to reproduce. Today, due to overfishing, wild caviar is prohibited and the sturgeon has become a protected species. World production is therefore almost exclusively farmed caviar.

Caviar quality linked to farming

The quality of caviar is directly linked to the quality of life of the sturgeon. Therefore, a sturgeon must be farmed in the best conditions in order to obtain quality caviar.

It should be noted that the sturgeon is a bottom fish that does not like light. For this reason, specific installations must be put in place (depth and cover of the ponds, black floor).

Also, the sturgeon is a fish that tends to be stressed. When a female sturgeon is stressed, the eggs are resorbed and dissolved in the abdomen. This is called atresia. It takes 6 months for a complete atresia and 2 years for a complete cycle for the female sturgeon to ovulate again.

You will have understood it, it is thus necessary to breed this fish with great meticulousness to produce these eggs!

Slow and expensive production

Caviar production is a long and complex process. Indeed, it is important to be aware of the different stages and difficulties involved in obtaining this exceptional delicacy.

First of all, it is important to know that we can only know the sex of the sturgeon after three years. During these three years, no profit is made. In addition, the costs of maintaining the ponds, feeding the sturgeon, as well as salary and other costs must be taken into account.

Secondly, only females can produce eggs and therefore caviar. The female sturgeon can only lay eggs once, as she will be slaughtered after her eggs have been extracted. The males will be offered in the best of cases as smoked or meat-based products that are much less expensive than caviar.

After that, you have to wait between 7 and more than 20 years depending on the species to obtain caviar.

Finally, add to these expensive production costs the processing of the caviar which is done manually by trained caviar makers. They must be extremely careful not to damage or break the eggs during the extraction process, that can take several hours per fish and involves several people. Once extracted, each egg will be cleaned, salted and packaged before being sold.

Now you can understand why caviar is a luxury and expensive product.