There is a sector in which Italy is a European excellence. A sector that includes one company, located between Lombardy and Veneto, which with 16 tons of annual production is the leading producer in Italy and among the best in Europe for its finest variety. It is not about precision mechanics, textiles or components, but caviar. In fact, few people know that 15% of world caviar production comes from Italy (and it is a product of the highest quality) and that 95% of Italian production comes from Lombardy and Veneto.
We are talking about a niche market, but one that for Italy involves production of between 55 and 60 tons per year (and if we consider that at retail one kilogram of caviar is worth between €1,800 and €5,000, it’s clear that, though “niche”, it is more than dignified in terms of production value).
Production in Italy is between 55 and 60 tons per year
The first Italian producer and among the first in Europe of 'beluga' caviar, the most valuable variant of sturgeon eggs, is Cru Caviar, a brand owned by Caviar Import, a company worth €3.6 million (turnover 2021) whose 25 employees follow the entire caviar production phase: from breeding the sturgeons to processing the meat and eggs, packaging and marketing. The company currently has 4 sturgeon farms on 20 hectares of land between Lombardy and Veneto, with the biggest site inside the Parco del Mincio.
But why do most people not know about such excellence? “Let's start by saying that the culture of sturgeon and caviar is well-established in the countries of Eastern Europe and in France, but to us it is a little bit foreign,” explains Domenico Meduri, General Manager of Caviar Import. “But in the last 10 years, we have made significant progress with worldwide recognition of our caviar. There is still a lot of work to do but we are approaching categories of restaurants that are not the tradition Michelin-starred venues but increasingly belonging to a medium/high range, not just very high.”
Processing the product requires great patience and great experience (hence the exorbitant price). For some species of sturgeon, such as the beluga, it takes up to 18 to 20 years before an individual fish is mature and suitable for the production of quality eggs.
“Then you need good water and knowledge of water,” he continues, “as we have experts who know and monitor the waters, who know the right time to get a mature caviar at the right time. We have a ‘caviar master’ who has been working in the production of caviar for over 25 years.”
For some species of sturgeon, such as the beluga, it takes up to 18 to 20 years before an individual fish is mature and suitable for the production of quality eggs
“In recent years, I have visited farms around the world,” he concludes, “and many believed that two tanks and a production lab was all that it required but it is much, much more complex. But in this field too, the passion and dedication of Italian entrepreneurship has ensured that Italy came out on top as a market of excellence”.
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