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"London Fine Foods Group is the only vertical caviar company in the UK"

We care passionately about Fine Foods, and particularly their quality and provenance.  

We employee the latest Health and Safety standards both at our London operation, as well as our own caviar farm in North Devon - Exmoor Caviar.

We take immense pride in our customers and we will always guarantee that you will receive our product that is from sustainable and traceable sources.

We are both an online retailer of Caviar and we are also a wholesaler of caviar to many of London's finest restaurants, and in 2012 we also became the first UK producers of caviar at our own Sturgeon farm in North Devon - Exmoor Caviar.

All caviar produced nowadays (by any farm in the world) must conform to CITES (see below). We hold this responsibility with the upmost importance.

PLEASE NOTE: There are several online resellers of caviar in the UK. Our 'most important' comment concerning these websites is that nearly all of these resellers do not have any form of HACCP control or health and safety, and can not therefore ensure the quality of you caviar products.

Please be certain that you buy caviar from legitimate sources and help us stamp out the illegal trade of caviar in the UK.

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12 things to know about caviar... by London Fine Foods

 

1) The Caviar Industry.

Twenty years ago, all caviar came from the Caspian Sea and the caviar trade was dominated by a handful of caviar traders from Iran and Russia.

However, since the introduction of CITES in 1998, and the totally understandably growing demand for compassionate sustainably produce sturgeon caviar, the caviar industry has now grown into a global sustainable farming business, spanning all seven continents.

In all there are now over 200 farms throughout the world, all sustainably farming sturgeons for the production of sturgeon caviar. 

2) Difference in Caviar.

We are asked many times by our customers about ‘What is the difference in the types of caviar’ and ‘Why are there price differences between the types of caviar’.

To plainly and simply answer this question, the longer it takes the sturgeon to produce the caviar, the higher the cost of its caviar.

For instance, take our Classic Osceitra Caviar which is produced from the Acipenser Baeri sturgeon. This particular sturgeon takes between 4 and 6 years to be produce a single caviar egg.

However if you take our Imperial Beluga Caviar, which is produced from the indigenous Caspian Sea ‘Huso Huso’ sturgeon; this takes an amazing 18 and 20 years to produce, and there are only two farms in the world that currently have production of this type of caviar.

3) Farmers, Repackers, Wholesalers and Retailers.

The trick with caviar when it comes to buying cost is to aim to buy your caviar closest to the source of the caviar. Usually this would mean a wholesaler.

Farmers: When the caviar roe is extracted from the sturgeon, it is washed several times in ice cold water, and then salted (approx. 2% -3% salt content of the total weight of the caviar), and then the caviar is packed into 1.8kg tins. These are what the industry calls ‘original packaging’ tins.

Repackers: Then the caviar is ‘bulk’ sold to a repacker. In a controlled environment, the tins are reopened and the caviar is decanted into smaller size tins, depending on what is required. Tin sizes and the caviar contents range from 10g, 30g, 50g, 100g, 125g, 250g, 500g and 1 KG.

Wholesalers: Once repacked into the smaller quantities, the tins are then sold to the wholesalers who then distribute to the airlines, hotels, restaurants, delicatessens, online retailers and specialist bricks and mortar retailers.

Retailers: Online websites or the likes of Harrods, Fortnum and Mason, Selfridges etc.

4) What is CITES.

Where ever there is money there is also usually corruption, be it Oil, Diamonds or in this case Caviar.

CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) is an international agreement between governments whose aim is to ensure that the international trade in specimens of wild animals does not threaten their survival.

Given that nearly all caviar traded today is farmed, CITES now generally oversees best practice within the industry and make sure that the farms are doing what they are supposed to do.

5) What is the CITES code.

All tins of caviar must have a legal CITES code attached to the bottom of the tin.

An example code will look like this - HUS/C/BG/2012/GB0093/P3475

This code will tell you:

1)     HUS – The initial three letters tell you what type of caviar is in the tin.

2)     C – This single letter tells you if it is farmed or wild caviar.  If it was wild it would be a W instead, for Wild, instead of C for Captivated.

3)     BG – These next two letters tell you which country the caviar came from. In this case Bulgaria (BG)

4)     Obviously 2012 means the year 2012

5)     GB0093 – This set of letters and numbers corresponds with the exact company that was licensed to repack the tin to caviar

6)     P4375 – The last set of letters and numbers on any caviar, will correspond with the CITES documents that match the caviar in the tin. If you wanted to contact the company that packed the caviar, they would also be able to tell you the farm and batch number from these last letters and numbers.

The main point of the CITES code on the label attached to the bottom of the tin, is to simply verify the authenticity of the caviar and its origins. CITES (see above) provides all registered caviar companies with a license and corresponding packed number, of which the company that repacks the caviar must attach a printed label with a corresponding CITES code to all tins of caviar, no matter the size or quantity of caviar within the tin. Any tin of caviar found without this code would be immediately confiscated by the authorities due to the lack of traceability of the caviar concerned.

6) Bad V Good caviar.

There are two ways to look at this. Both from a legal point of view and a taste point of view. Caviar should always be nice and pert with a very small amount of oil residue. Any caviar that is soft and mushy is long in its legs and close to the sell by date.

To test a good caviar, take a small heaped tea spoon of caviar from the tin. On a grade of 1 – 5, where by a ‘Grade 1’ is a small turn to say 11 o’clock or 1 o’clock, and that a ‘Grade 5’ is a turn to 9 o’clock or 3 o’clock, depending on which way you turn the spoon. A poor ‘Grade 1’ caviar will simply slide off the spoon and fall on the floor; where as the best caviar will remain for a period on the spoon even if turned to 90 degrees!

7) Hybrid Caviar.

Referring to the CITES codes (above), just to add a little more confusion, through farming techniques and the demand for larger better tasting caviar eggs, many of the farms now cross breed the sturgeons to produce a hybrid caviar, similar to cattle and say a Hereford - Aberdeen Angus.

Hence there are now approximately a further 17 different types of hybrid caviar available today to buy.

In our opinion, some of them are actually better caviars than the more traditional indigenous Caspian Sea caviars, when both value and quality are taking into consideration.

The easiest way to spot a Hybrid caviar, is again from the code on the bottom of the tin. Instead of having only three initial letters to start the code (see above), there are instead two sets of three letters i.e. HUS x BAE, which would mean a Huso Huso cross with an Acipenser Baeri (see species codes below).  

 

8) Resellers and poor caviar.

Generally avoid any non-licensed reseller. If you Google the word caviar, most of the search results will display resellers of caviar.

It’s not that the reseller sells poor caviar, its more so their limited knowledge of the caviar product and that generally their discounted caviar is poor caviar as the wholesaler is hoping to sell the caviar before it perishes.

As they say ‘Pay Peanuts, get Monkeys’!     

9) Additives in Caviar.

All farmed caviar will potentially have the food additive E285 contained within the caviar. The content of E285 is up to 0.04g in 1 KG of caviar. E285 stabilises the caviar eggs, making them more pert and sweeter, and increases the shelf life of the caviar. It is possible to have caviar without the E285; either through higher salt contents or that the caviar is less than 10 days old.  

10) Indigenous Caspian Sea Caviars.

You will have almost always heard of Beluga Caviar, as it’s the one everyone talked about in the 1980’s!

However a concerning point to remember, is that Beluga Caviar as a name, or Sevruga Caviar, or in fact any other type of Royal, Imperial, Special Reserve or Super-Duper caviar, are all marketing names and designed to entice the purchaser to purchase.

More alarmingly is that resellers are calling lesser quality caviars by the names of the old traditional caviar common names, Beluga, Oscietra and Sevruga.

The Huso Huso sturgeon (HUS) from the Caspian Sea is commonly known as the Great Beluga Sturgeon. The Acipenser Gueldenstaedtii (GUE) is commonly known as Oscietra or the Russian Sturgeon, and the Acipenser Stellatus (STE) is commonly known as the Sevruga sturgeon. These are the genuine indigenous caviars from the Caspian Sea.

Be warned that Resellers use the words of Beluga, Oscietra and Sevruga misleadingly, whereby the caviar in the tin is or inferior quality and taste. In many cases the caviar is not what it claims to be in the tin.

11) Species and their CITES codes of Sturgeons that produce caviar.

Including the newly farmed hybrid sturgeons, there are now nearly fifty different types of sturgeons that produce caviar, however many of the non-hybrid caviars are considered not fit for human consumption.

12) Sturgeons Species.

Below is a list of the main non-hybrid sturgeons:

SPECIES   STURGEON NAME CITES CODE
     
Acipenser Baerii      Siberian Sturgeon BAE
Acipenser Baerii Naicalensis Baikal Sturgeon BAI
Acipenser Brevirostrum Short-nosed Sturgeon BVI
Acipenser Dabryanus Yangtze Sturgeon DAB
Acipenser Fulvescens  Lake Sturgeon FUL
Acipenser Gueldenstaedtil  Russian Sturgeon GUE
Acipenser Medirostris Green Sturgeon MED
Acipenser Mikadoi    Sakhalin Sturgeon MIK
Acipenser Naccarii Adriatic Sturgeon NAC
Acipenser Nudiventris Ship Sturgeon  NUD
Acipenser Oxyrhynchus Atlantic Sturgeon OXY
Acipenser Oxyrhynchus Desotol  Gulf Sturgeon DES
Acipenser Persicus Persian Sturgeon PER
Acipenser Ruthenus Sterlet RUT
Acipenser Schrencki  Amur Sturgeon   SCH
Acipenser Sinensis  Chinese Sturgeon SIN
Acipenser Stellatus  Stellate Sturgeon STE
Acipenser Sturio    Common Sturgeon STU
Acipenser Transmontanus White Sturgeon TRA
Huso Dauricus Kaluga Sturgeon DAU
Huso Huso  Giant Sturgeon, Beluga HUS
Polyodon Spathula  American Paddlefish SPA

 For all questions concerning caviar, please call us on tel: 08456 439 121

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