Summer Fancy Food Show at Summer Fancy Food Show

Unpacking US caviar business models at Summer Fancy Food Show

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Source: D. Ataman
Source: D. Ataman

Related tags caviar

Despite a shared commitment to domestic aquaculture, non-profit North Star Caviar carves a unique niche with its focus on sustainable paddlefish caviar, contrasting with Marky's sturgeon farm’s dedication to producing the US's only beluga and sevruga, highlighting the evolving caviar market.

The global caviar market, currently valued at an estimated $372.99 million in 2024, is projected to reach $547.03 million by 2029, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.96%, according to a report​ by Mordor Intelligence.

Both companies, through their distinct production and distribution models, capitalize on the growing consumer demand for sustainable caviar. This demand is driven by a concern for maintaining healthy wild fish populations and ecosystems, as well as the responsible practices of aquaculture.

North Star focuses on sustainable, wild-caught paddlefish

North Star, a venture between the non-profit organizations Williston Area Chamber of Commerce and the Friends of Fort Union/Fort Buford, works with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. The paddlefish eggs are donated by sport fishers in exchange for free fish cleaning during paddlefish season, which is between May 1-21 or the first 1,000 fish caught.

“The season could last for four days, or it could last for 20 days. You just do not know,” which is designed to keep the population consistent, Amy Krueger, executive director for Williston Convention & Visitors Bureau, told FoodNavigator-USA during the Summer Fancy Food Show last week in New York City.

North Star Caviar offers its wild-caught paddlefish caviar in two sizes: two-pound and half-pound containers. These are primarily sold wholesale to distributors worldwide, with additional sales directly to restaurants.

The caviar is characterized as having “buttery or clean taste,” she said.

She added, “It is not overly salty and it is not overly fishy. It is more of a mild palate caviar. So, it is not a strong fish flavor.”

Markey’s farm-raised beluga, sevruga caviar are ‘grandfathered in’ after Russian-Iran sanctions

Family-owned caviar producer, Marky’s, is the United States’ largest producer of farm-raised beluga and sevruga caviar, Floyd Bond, sales manager at Marky’s, told FoodNavigator-USA during the Summer Fancy Food Show.

The company owns its own beluga and sevruga sturgeon farm, Sturgeon Aquafarms, in Tallahassee, Fla., allowing it to produce caviar legally after Russia and Iran embargoes in the early 2000s, which banned caviar imports into the US.

“We were grandfathered in because our famers already had the sturgeon, and the DNA is from Russia,” Bond said.

In 2003, the company bought Russian sturgeon to raise them in 100 tanks in Tallahassee. The fish take 10-15 years to maturity.  

Bond explained that the high price point for beluga caviar, which ranges from $175 to $260 per ounce, is due to the long maturation process of the sturgeon.

While Marky’s produces sevruga and beluga caviar at its farm, it imports 7,000 products including sturgeon caviar like Siberian, osetra and kaluga and non-sturgeon caviar like salmon and trout roe from all over the world. The company has several brick-and-mortar gourmet grocery stores, Marky’s Caviar, in New York City and Miami, in addition to distributing to restaurants, cruise lines and hotels, like Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla.

Identifying the difference between beluga, sevruga

Caviar grades (000,00 and 0) are based on a variety of factors – size, color, maturity and flavor – although size mostly determines the quality, Bond said. He described beluga caviar as a triple zero grade (000), or the “Rolls Royce” of caviar that is “a very firm, small black egg with a nutty creamy flavor to it.”

Marky’s offers a variety of sizes of its beluga caviar, from 28 grams at $1,020 to 250 grams at $7,995.

Sevruga, which Marky’s considers an “entry-level” caviar, is characterized as having an earthy, creamy flavor with low salt. The company sells several sizes from 28 grams to $125 to 1 kilograms at $3,925.



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