Caviar is considered a delicacy.
If you hear that someone is eating caviar, you can almost instantly associate it with money and wealth.
Caviar is not something that ordinary people will eat on a daily or even weekly basis.
There are some very specific reasons caviar is so expensive.
These reasons play a big part in caviar also being hard to find at times.
Here are some reasons you may want to wait for your next work bonus before preparing a caviar snack for yourself.
Why Is Caviar So Expensive? (5 Reasons)
1. Roe Maturation
If you have not heard the word “roe” in the past, it simply means fish egg.
Caviar is essentially a fish egg, and the time that it takes for the eggs to mature is going to be a big part of the cost that you will pay for caviar.
Caviar is farmed in a fishery where they will grow the roe for the sole purpose of selling them.
The roe maturation is going to vary depending on the type of fish that it is.
The longer the roe need to be maintained and taken care of, the more expensive the caviar is going to be.
In addition, in order to produce these roe, fisheries need to have plenty of fish that are capable of producing.
Depending on the maintenance involved with these types of fish, the pricing of the caviar will be affected as well.
For some fish, the amount of time it takes for them to mature and lay eggs is about three years.
However, for other fish, it could be decades.
You must consider the economic impact of waiting for up to ten or twenty years for a fish to produce anything that you could sell for a profit.
The type of business planning and work that it takes to invest like this is extreme and hard for the average person to consider.
It also makes the process of selling caviar much more complicated than you may realize.
Another factor that plays into this concept of roe maturation is capturing the eggs at exactly the right time.
If the eggs are not harvested at exactly the right time, they will be wasted, which is clearly not good for profit and the overall business model.
2. Type of Fish
Everyone knows that caviar is fish eggs, but very few people are aware of what type of fish egg it is.
Not all fish eggs are the same.
People who understand caviar and eat it often will tell you that they can absolutely tell the difference between the different types of fish eggs.
True caviar comes from a type of fish called a sturgeon.
However, with the amount of caviar that people want to consume, the sturgeon population can’t keep up.
This is why much of the caviar is just called salted roe, which can come from a variety of different fish.
It’s hard to find sturgeon caviar because, when it first became popular, it was overfished.
People got overly excited about the money that could be made in this process, and they severely depleted the fish population.
Since then, very strict limits have been put on sturgeon, and it is important that this is considered when fishing for these fish.
Some countries are not as strict with their rules when it comes to sturgeon, and this will eventually lead to their decline in population.
As with all food that comes from living things, the amount that is consumed needs to be considered when it comes to the population of the species.
As the sturgeon population has gone down, the price of caviar has continued to go up.
This is why caviar today is mostly made with other types of fish eggs, not sturgeon.
It has become almost impossible to find and to afford the production of the sturgeon caviar.
Farming of sturgeon has certainly helped to get the pricing back in check and give people better access to this type of caviar.
However, the next time that you purchase caviar, you should pay close attention to the type you are purchasing.
Although you may not know the difference from one type to the next, a true caviar expert will certainly be able to tell.
3. Production Process
As you may imagine, the process of producing caviar is quite complicated.
Traditionally speaking, a fish is killed, and the eggs are taken from the fish.
However, there are some new, humane ways of harvesting eggs which allow for the fish to survive the harvesting process.
This type of caviar is not known for being as great tasting as the caviar harvested when the fish is dead.
The process starts by killing the fish and then removing the eggs by hand.
Once the eggs are removed from the fish, they need to be kept sterile the entire time.
If the fish eggs have any contaminants in the raw state, they will be ruined and actually dangerous to eat.
Everything about the process of harvesting caviar will show you that this is truly a delicacy.
All of the roe that is harvested is screened to make sure that it looks useable.
Once it has been screened, it is washed and cleaned.
The next step is that it is graded by hand.
The very high-end premium caviar will sell for much higher prices than the lower quality.
If the caviar is not relatively as high in quality, it goes through a salting and flavoring process.
Once the caviar is ready to be packaged, it then has to age.
After the aging process, it goes into a shipment or pasteurization process.
This step will end up adding even more time and effort to the overall process.
Caviar has to be placed in packaging that is going to help preserve it and keep it intact until it makes it to the end user.
You will notice that many of the steps in this production process are going to involve a human working with the product.
When people have to touch a product, especially more than once, the price of production becomes higher.
Labor is one of the most expensive costs that we see in our modern world.
Even with all the technology out there, paying for labor is extremely high.
4. Supply and Demand
The old concept of supply and demand will come into play when you purchase caviar.
Caviar is considered a delicacy, and it is not supposed to be as easy to get as a gallon of milk.
With the regulations on sturgeon and the high cost of producing caviar, you will see that the supply is relatively low.
It is not very common for a person to start up a caviar business.
This is why the world is sort of stuck with the businesses that are already in place.
Supply and demand is a concept that is not going to go away anytime soon.
Unless, for some reason, the ability to produce caviar becomes much easier and much less regulated, we are going to see the supply and demand continue to impact the pricing.
The price of caviar is going to remain high as long as the demand is high, and the supply is low.
Even though some people are against the production of caviar and what it means for the fish, there are still plenty of people who have no problem eating it.
In fact, in affluent cultures, it is almost expected to have caviar as part of some meals or celebrations.
It is considered a necessary part of certain celebrations regardless of what the cost of the product is in the end.
With expensive products, we often see that replication helps to bring the price down.
In the case of caviar, the production of farmed fish eggs has undoubtedly helped to bring the price down, but there are problems with this.
The main problem is that most people who are big fans of caviar can tell the difference between the farmed caviar and the wild-caught sturgeon caviar.
Unfortunately, this has only increased the price of real caviar.
People realize how truly rare caviar is, and they are willing to pay even more for it.
If you are not a caviar connoisseur, the replicated caviar will help you to save a bit of money and have access to the caviar.
It has also made the price of true caviar even more expensive.
This is a frustrating thing for those who can taste the difference between the true and farmed caviar, but there is not much that can be done about it.
Over time, we will probably see even more issues with the fishing of sturgeon and regulations that need to be put in place.
How to Save Money on Caviar
Truthfully, people who purchase caviar are not looking to save all that much money on it.
They are looking to enjoy the delicacy.
If you find that you want to try caviar and save a bit of money on it, you are going to have to purchase the farmed caviar.
You may be able to find this in your local grocery store, and the prices are reasonable.
Of course, the quality is not going to be the same as the premium caviar, but you will still get the desired experience.
If this is your first caviar experience, you won’t really even know what you are missing out on.
In the future, look for coupons and deals from companies that sell caviar.
Some online distributors will give you some great deals and discounts on the caviar if you are purchasing it quite often.
Is Caviar Illegal?
Caviar can be illegal if it is brought in from another country.
This rule was put in place because the beluga caviar comes from an endangered animal.
The United States is very strict about endangered species.
Since they are not going to promote people in the country eating these endangered species, it is illegal to bring them into the country.
If you want to have this type of caviar, you will need to eat it elsewhere.
Don’t try to bring it here, or you will have to pay the consequences.
Hopefully, you now feel a bit better about purchasing caviar and why it is, in fact, so expensive.
These prices are not inflated.
They are simply the result of the long and expensive process of producing this caviar.
If you are never able to try caviar, you can take some satisfaction in knowing that even some people who can afford caviar don’t enjoy it.
It is certainly an acquired taste, and it is not something that everyone enjoys.
Keep an eye out for coupons, and always purchase a very small amount your first time around, just in case you don’t enjoy the flavor.