Why Caviar’s So Expensive

Considered Iran’s most precious export and the world’s most expensive food, caviar at its best can tap your bank account for about $113,600 and is one of the oldest delicacies in the world for good reason. A few factors legitimize the high price tag as the supreme sourcing and long waiting times make for a higher demand than supply.

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Caviar is commonly known as a delicacy for the wealthiest people. Much like the types and qualities of fine wine, caviar has range based on the specie of fish, how it’s processed and the maturation time. Introduced to high societies during the late 1800’s,  the luxury of access is of itself enough for the ego. 

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Fishermen of what is considered true caviar often wait on average about eighteen years for the source of the best caviar to mature and produce her eggs – the sturgeon fish. History clearly indicates how harvesting this rare species has been detrimental to its livelihood since the high demand has ever increased for a delicacy of this nature. Beginning in the 1800’s, this rare type of fish has been hunted and harvested for its dynamic quality of roe, otherwise called fish eggs.  The female sturgeon takes on average about eighteen years to reach her maturation and begin producing eggs, which is main point of caviar’s high pricing.

Since that time, high demand met greedy fishermen and the sturgeon’s numbers in nature have been at such an overwhelming detriment placing 18 of 27 species types under government protection within the past ten years. It’s no surprise the largest female sturgeon on record weighing in at over 3,000 pounds was caught near Volga back in 1827.

Today, to be told you’re purchasing wild-caught caviar is a major falsehood, or should be, as the only approved sourcing is coming from farmed species, which in itself has had a consistent spike of farms across the globe — especially China which pulls in 30 percent of the market. For this reason, in the current marketplace not even the highest bidder would have access to wild-caught sturgeon eggs today, whether for sport or the offered price.

Traditional beluga sturgeon’s natural habitat is based in the Iranian Caspian Sea and while farmers have done their best to replicate the quality of beluga caviar, like any other genetically modified food, have missed the mark by miles.

If you’ve never been able to experience the taste of authentic beluga caviar, it’s described as delicate as freshly churned butter with a hint of earthy walnut topped with a slight tang and silky texture likened to a bottle of burgundy. An expert account given to Esquire, about the exquisite experience of a Russian tin of high-grade caviar described his first encounter as an ethereal, buttery seaweed flavored juice after feeling the tiny, fragile capsules softly bursting against the roof of his mouth. 

Connoisseurs of high-grade caviar, should be familiar with the quality index of a luxurious fish roe from the Sturgeon or Salmon species. These qualities include evaluation of the egg size, odor, taste and consistency to name a few. According to Caspian Monarque, in order to guarantee you’re purchasing the best, one should check the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species or ‘CITES’ label for quality control. In today’s online shopping landscape, knowledge of which country the caviar originated from, among other clues, can help buyers avoid creative play on words that, like “Persian Method” or “Iranian Tradition”, that lead the unfamiliar astray.

So how do the wealthiest people still flaunt their exclusivity and privilege of big dollars? Well, for $113,600 dollars per kilo the richest of us can tap the next best alternative by way of Strottarga Bianco. The newcomer to the luxurious world of caviar, boasts a rare product dubbed “white gold” as it is harvested by the albino sturgeon and topped with gold leaf sprinkles.

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Of the richest people who enjoy the art of caviar, the likes of Barron Trump reported to enjoy the delicacy regularly, while actress Mindy Kaling is an advocate of the caviar-based skincare line, ‘La Prairie Skin Caviar’ line retailing at Nordstrom from $200 to just over $500.

As time tells, anything worth while is worth waiting for and ethically harvested caviar remains king for cuisine.

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Sources: Mashed, Esquire, Caviar Star, Caspian Monarque, People

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