Russian researchers are looking at new sustainable methods of farming sturgoen, which could eventually lead to greater stocks and, perhaps, cheaper caviar. Currently, future stocks of caviar are in doubt because of over-harvesting and the illegal trade in
Russia is not only renowned for its consumption of the fine food but it is also recognised as being one of the world's largest suppliers. Caviar harvested from Caspian Sea sturgeon supplies approximately 90% of global demand. And even though it may seem a very simple ingredient – just fish roe preserved with salt – it's one of the most expensive foods in the world.
Bester fish farm, based just outside Moscow, is a public private enterprise patronised by the Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO), looking at new sustainable methods to harvest caviar.
To speed up the process of production they are researching and developing special breeding technology. But more significantly they have designed a technique for performing Caesareans, which allows the egg roe to be removed without killing the fish. It means multiple supplies from a single source and it also means the process of killing each fish by clubbing it to death is no longer necessary.
VNIRO specialists are continually looking at new methods to innovate the sector and other countries are adopting the techniques they employ. Their methods offer potentially huge commercial opportunities and they are hopeful for its success.
However, it's the consumers to be convinced when it comes to the silver spoon test.
“As soon as they prove the quality and the stability of the quality, if they prove they can supply the caviar just as good as the wild caviar, we are going to buy it of course,” says Mikhail Zrelov, restaurant owner.
Quality or not, with the future of stocks depending on innovation of the industry, everyone along the caviar food chain might soon be forced to refine their ideas.
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