Caviar’s history is closely tied to the history of sturgeon fish. Caviar is roe preserved in salt from the female sturgeon of the fish family Acipenseridae. The sturgeon’s origins go back to the time before man. According to scientific findings, it has existed for 250 million years and is thus one of the most primitive animals. By comparison, the early form of man evolved around 2 million years ago. Today, 27 species of this fish family exist and 90% of the world’s wild sturgeon population inhabits the Caspian Sea.
Already several centuries before our era, ancient sources reported on sturgeon and its consumption during banquets. However, there was no reference made to the delicacy caviar yet, the sturgeon’s unfertilised egg. Instead, its protein-rich meat and swim bladder were praised. Caviar was first documented around 850 AD. The term caviar probably derives from Persian and means “small egg”. The Persians are also considered to be the first to have produced caviar in a form similar to the one we know today.
Caviar only began to conquer the world in the 17th century at the latest, when the aristocracy of the Russian Empire acquired a taste for it and brought it as a gift to the European nobility. Starting in the 19th century, fresh Russian caviar – and no longer pressed caviar – could be exported for the first time from the Caspian Sea to Europe.
Until the middle of the last century, Russia – respectively the Soviet Union – enjoyed a dominant position in the caviar market. In 1952, the Persian Shah repurchased the Russian shares of a South Caspian Soviet-Iranian company for Iran. Under the guidance of the national fisheries organisation SHILAT, the worldwide success story of Iranian caviar finally unfolded.
A few decades ago, sturgeon could still be found in the wild in large numbers in numerous countries. Due to water pollution, dams and especially overfishing, global sturgeon populations declined dramatically. By 1998, all sturgeon species had to be included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flota (CITES) and the trade in wild caviar was banned internationally. Only by this means could the extinction of the sturgeon be successfully prevented until today.
Following the ban on trade in caviar, sturgeon farms emerged all over the world which on the one hand introduced new caviar varieties to the market and on the other hand made caviar in general more affordable. However, Iranian expertise in caviar and sturgeon is still considered the best and most sought-after in the world. Iranian farms significantly contribute to the growth and biodiversity of sturgeon stocks in the Caspian Sea. Among other things, they release farmed fish and consciously work environment-friendly.
At our farm, we go one step further and combine science with traditional Persian knowledge. Our sustainable and innovative approach and the close cooperation with laboratories and universities in Iran enable us to constantly improve our processes and to implement new findings directly into practice. The concrete result for you? Consistent first-class caviar quality.