November 29, 2019 - Iran has exported two tons of caviar since March 2019, said the secretary general of Aquatics’ Production and Trade Union of Iran.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Ali-Akbar Khodaei added in the year to March 2019, Iran’s caviar exports stood at 1.5 tons.
He noted that the country produces the world’s most expensive and high-quality processed roe, for which there is a strong international demand.
Elaborating on sturgeon farming and caviar production in the country, Khodaei said since 15 years ago, when catching sturgeon from the Caspian Sea was banned, Iran began its work in these fields and used the best sturgeon species to this end.
He added that sturgeon requires at least seven or eight years to reach puberty and begin spawning.
“At present, a number of sturgeons farmed over the past few years in Iran have reached this stage. That is why, in the 12-month period to March 2019, the country’s caviar production and exports amounted to four tons and 1.5 tons respectively and stood at six tons and two tons in the past eight months.”
He put the price of each kilogram of Iran’s caviar at €1,000, adding, thus, exporting two tons of caviar fetches the country close to $3 million.
Commenting on the rapid pace of expanding caviar production in Iran, Khodaei expressed optimism that the country’s caviar output and exports would reach 15 tons and seven tons, respectively, in three years.
Describing neighboring Arab states as well as European countries as the main destinations of Iran’s caviar exports, he said although due to the ban on catching sturgeon from the Caspian Sea, Iran does not currently rank among the world’s top countries in terms of the volume of its caviar production, the value and quality of “our caviar is unrivalled in the world.”
At present, China produces over 100 tons of caviar per year, ranking first in the world in this field, he said, adding the East Asian country had begun caviar production long before Iran started its activities in this area.
In addition, he stressed, China farms a kind of sturgeon which reaches puberty sooner than the species used for caviar production in Iran.
“That is why the price of the Chinese caviar is one third of that of Iran.”
China farms two sturgeon species, including Kaluga, for caviar production, which are not well-known internationally, he said.
This comes as the species farmed in Iran is called beluga, which is the world’s best kind of sturgeon in terms of size and quality, Khodaei noted.
“Following the prohibition of catching sturgeon from the Caspian Sea, farming the fish gained popularity in Iran and good investments were made in this field.”
Putting the number of sturgeon farms in Iran at 100, he said they are mostly located in the northern Iranian provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan.
In addition, Khodaei added, there are sturgeon farms in Qom and Kerman provinces (both in central Iran) and Dezful in southwestern Iran.