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February 22, 2021

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Chinese caviar now the toast of the world

When thinking of countries producing caviar, China is usually not part of the equation. However, made-in-China caviar is gradually gaining popularity in international markets. It is all thanks to the arduous efforts of Chinese enterprises.

China’s largest caviar producer is in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang. In 2019, the caviar output of Hangzhou Thousand Island Lake Sturgeon Technology Co, reached 102 tons, accounting for over 30 percent worldwide.

“Our products appear in hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets in over 20 countries, such as France, Germany, and the United States,” said Xia Yongtao, deputy general manager of the company.

The company was founded in 2003. Back then, the global caviar industry was sluggish as the number of wild sturgeons slumped, and various countries imposed fishing bans.

“We aimed to ride the wave of Western countries’ unfulfilled demand. But we faced difficulties due to lack of experience in meeting sturgeons’ high demand over water temperature and oxygen content,” Xia said.

Breeding conditions

“Sturgeons are fragile,” said Shi Zhenguang, who started sturgeon breeding with his brother in southwest China’s Yunnan Province in 2003.

Majoring in freshwater aquaculture, Shi kept doing research and experiments to deal with the mass mortality of sturgeons and enhance their breeding conditions.

Meanwhile, Xia’s Sturgeon Technology invited experts from Russia, Iran, Hungary, and Germany for technical advice.

Nutritive feeding, advanced processing technology, and cold-chain logistics reinforced the confidence of Chinese caviar producers. However, poor sales disappointed them but Sturgeon Technology went to many countries for market surveys and sales promotions.

After attaining several top awards at blind-tasting caviar events and exhibitions, the company finally had its breakthrough. It became the supplier of German flag carrier Deutsche Lufthansa AG in 2011.

Shi never stopped improving his product quality. In 2017, caviar produced by his company, Yunnan Amuer Sturgeon Group Co, appeared in a three-star Michelin restaurant in Germany, and gradually sales started booming.

Over half of all global sturgeon farms are now in China.


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