Russia hopes to expand caviar exports

Published on
October 23, 2017

Russia’s newly released National Fishery Development Strategy includes a strong emphasis on increasing production and exports of the country’s renowned black caviar.

The plan, which outlines the nation’s strategy for development of its fisheries through the next decade and beyond, forecasts an increase in black caviar production to 185 metric tons (MT) per annum by 2030 and its global market share to 15 percent. The plans were announced by Ilya Shestakov, chairman of Russia’s Federal Agency for Fisheries, who first expounded on the plans at the opening of the Russia Aquaculture Development forum in June.    

Shestakov said the plan is possible thanks to recent moves by the national government to better support the aquaculture sector.  A new federal policy, which came into force in 2014, allowed aquaculture firms to extend their contracts for rentals of fish-breeding facilities without retendering them, so long as the terms of the contract remain the same. And in 2015, a state-funded program was launched to support aquaculture businesses in which private aquaculture companies can get partial compensation for paying interest on long-term loans for purchase of feed, equipment, and fuel products. In 2016, Russia spent RUB 400 million (USD 7 million, EUR 5.8 million) on the program; for 2017, the figure is projected to be a bit less, but Shestakov said if all the funds allocated by the state are spent, additional funds will be provided in 2017, and even more will be provided for the program in 2018.  

Russia’s total output of black caviar is about 50 MT per year, according to the Federal Agency for Fisheries. The country’s export of the product was 1.65 MT in 2014 and 6.7 MT in 2015 – a four-fold increase in one year.Besides the state’s support, an increase in export volumes was caused by the weakening of the ruble, which dropped significantly against most other currencies.  

Black caviar sells for as much as USD 1,000 to 2,000 (EUR 850 to 1,700) per kilogram. The main buyers of Russian black caviar are the United Arab Emirates, Canada, the United States, China, Singapore, and Japan. The European Union remains off limits for Russian caviar exporters, as Russia doesn’t have an agreement on product standardization with the E.U., making it impossible for Russian companies to enter this lucrative market.

Reporting from Saint Petersburg, Russia

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