Waitrose unveils “affordable, everyday” caviar from Elsinore

Eslinore masago and trout caviar, now available at Waitrose.

Waitrose, which operates 329 grocery stores and supermarkets across the United Kingdom, has unveiled an “affordable, everyday” caviar product hopes it will encourage more consumption of what is generally considered a luxury seafood item.

Instead of sturgeon roe, the Elsinore caviar uses capelin eggs. The product, released on 18 May, is initially priced at GBP 5.50 (USD 6.87, EUR 6.32) for a 100-gram container. 

Elsinore hopes to tap into a Covid-era trend of U.K. consumers making their own sushi at home. Capelin roe, known as masago in Japanese, is popular as a topping for sushi rolls, as it offers “a semi-crunchy texture and sweet and salty flavor, adding visual, textural and contrasting taste,” it said in a press release.

Sushi products for do-it-yourself production at home made up 10 to 15 percent of the total U.K. sushi market, which was valued at GBP 170 million (USD 212 million, EUR 185 million) in 2022, it said.

Casper Gorniok, the product brand manager at U.K. food distribution firm Golden Acre Foods, told the Grocer Waitrose had embraced innovation with the move.

“Launching Elsinore masago caviar into a mainstream supermarket taps right into this growing opportunity and its affordability is likely to be a major draw for consumers, who might not already be caviar purchasers, looking to experiment with sushi-making at home,” Gorniok said. “It also provides retailers with the opportunity to offer their customers a total solution for affordable sushi-making using quality, fresh seafood ingredients from a brand they can trust.”

Waitrose had a rough year in 2022, with sales falling 3 percent to GBP 7.3 billion (USD 9.1 billion, EUR 8.4 billion), amid rising food-price inflation. Its online sales were down and its operating profit dropped 12 percent to GBP 894 million (USD 1.12 billion, EUR 1.03 billion), according to The Guardian. Its smaller size compared to other U.K. grocery chains restricts its ability to negotiate prices, and its information and technology system lags behind competitors, which has resulted in gaps on shelves, the news site reported. 

This isn’t the first time Waitrose has embraced a cheaper caviar alternative. In 2008, in response to the global financial crisis, it began stocking stock Arenkha, an imitation caviar made by combining smoked herring with squid ink, lemon juice, and spices. A 55-gram tin of the Marine Stewardship Council-certified product cost GBP 4.55 (now USD 5.68, EUR 5.23), according to The Telegraph. The product is still available via Waitrose’s online store for GBP 19.99 (USD 24.95, EUR 22.97).

Photo courtesy of Elsinore


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