Aquna Murray Cod marketing unique caviar product

Ian Charles of Aquna Cod showing off the company's new Murray Cod Caviar

Aquna Murray Cod, an Australian company that has developed an aquaculture operation for Murray cod – a freshwater perch (Maccullochella peelii) – has now added Murray cod caviar to its repertoire.

Murray cod grows in the wild in the Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin river system. Aquna Murray Cod, based in New South Wales, Australia, has been farming the species in earthen ponds and has steadily developed a market for the freshwater fish

Aquna Murray Cod Business Development Executive Ian Charles told SeafoodSource during Seafood Expo Asia – running from 11 to 13 September in Singapore – the company has always understood the species could also be a source of eggs for either caviar or roe. 

“We started growing the fish, and we’d always had this thought around, 'Could we use it as a caviar? What would that look like?’” Charles said. “We’ve sat on that for quite a few years.”

Prior to developing the Murray Cod Caviar, Charles said, the company already had plenty of fish eggs. 

“The emphasis for us behind this was creating value out of byproduct. The eggs for the processed fish were before largely thrown out,” he said.

Charles’ professional background was originally in hatchery production, where he said he developed an understanding of fish biology and egg production. He said Aquna was recently approached by Australia-based Simon Johnson Caviar to see if the company was interested in a collaboration.

Having agreed, Aquna Murray Cod began by working to understand when the company could optimally harvest eggs from the fish by measuring egg sizes coming up to their normal spawning season. After that study, the company developed a multi-step process during the harvest of the fish. First the eggs and egg sacks are extracted, and the eggs are separated and cleaned before being salted, cured, and packed.

Charles said a major benefit of the new Murray Cod Caviar is the shorter lead time between the hatchery and complete product. Typically, he said, the fish are four years old when they’re processed for their eggs, compared to at least 10 in some cases for sturgeon caviar. 

“I’d be retired before any sturgeon came through,” Charles said.

The product also benefits from its premium nature and rich, golden color.

“It’s different to your sturgeon caviars,” Charles said. “The way I’d describe it is, as opposed to sturgeon caviar, is it has quite a crunch to it, the eggs are quite firm. It’s a fresh flavor rather than that umami; It’s a lighter and fresher flavor.”

He described the new product as a “high-end garnish caviar” rather than a caviar that would be eaten entirely on its own.

The product packaging was created to reflect the eggs' golden color, and the other colors on the packaging were derived from Murray cod scales.

Price-wise, the Murray cod caviar is below sturgeon caviar but above salmon caviar. But Charles said it's more special.

“It’s probably the rarest caviar in the world, in a sense,” Charles said. “No one else is doing it, and no one else is likely to do it for a long time.” 

Photo by Chris Chase/SeafoodSource 


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