Food Economics: The Growing Affordability & Popularity of Caviar

Caviar was once a food that only the wealthy and elite could afford. However, prices have been dropping for the past few years to the point where caviar is more accessible to everyone. Harvested primarily in China, caviar is no longer as rare as it once was. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the price of caviar has dropped more than 50 percent per ton since 2012.

The popularity of caviar has reached the United States since the dramatic decrease in price. Data obtained from the United States Census Bureau indicates that American consumers can easily find caviar for less than $100 per ounce. Caviar sales climbed six percent from 2018 to 2019 with 2020 results expected to be even better. By 2025, fishing industry analysts expect worldwide sales to reach $560 million dollars.

Madagascar Outpacing China in Caviar Production

Back in 2009, three French entrepreneurs started a caviar farm in Madagascar called Acipenser. The businesspeople took the name Acipenser from a type of sturgeon that fishing industry workers harvest to create caviar for restaurants and individual consumers.

With high poverty in their country, the developers of Madagascar’s first caviar farm knew they were taking a huge risk. As it turns out, most island natives could not afford the luxury fish priced at approximately $50 for one ounce. Acipenser found success by exporting caviar to other countries, primarily France.

By 2019, the company was exporting over 5,000 kilograms (11,023 pounds) of caviar and selling a small amount of it to luxury restaurants on the island of Madagascar. The success of this venture meant that China had major competition in the caviar market and had to lower prices accordingly. The popularity of caviar rose as prices dropped. Additionally, consumers benefitted most from the competition and continue to do so.

Health Benefits Associated with Caviar

popularity of caviar is on the rise
Image by HNBS from Pixabay

While improved affordability accounts for some of the increased caviar purchases outside of China, Americans have also realized the numerous health benefits of caviar. Here are just a handful of them:

  • Rich in vitamins and minerals: Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that aids in the production of red blood cells and the proper functioning of fatty acids. People who do not consume enough Vitamin B12 can suffer from depression, fatigue, anemia, numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, and reduced cognitive abilities. Fortunately, caviar contains enough Vitamin B12 to help Americans meet the daily recommendation. The exotic fish also contains Vitamins A, C, and E that can improve immune system functioning. Calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc are additional minerals found in caviar.
  • Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids: Salmon and sturgeon are two of the primary fish used to harvest caviar. Both fish contain natural omega-3 fatty acids in large amounts. Omega-3 fatty acids can lower the risk of developing several chronic diseases or health emergencies. These include stroke, heart attack, hardening of the arteries, and blood clots.
  • Organically grown: Caviar is the fish eggs of salmon and sturgeon. Harvesters grow it organically and do not add any antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides so common in other types of food.

The above are just three of dozens of reported health benefits of eating caviar regularly. Between the health benefits and the price continuing to drop, the popularity of caviar has never been greater.