Caviar Costly Despite Ruble Ruin
Sacramento, California -- If the ruble’s meltdown has you thinking ‘Perfect time to splurge on a fabulous mink coat, and throw a caviar vodka party!’ - think again.
Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network know that a crumbling currency is not making Russian delicacies any cheaper. Caviar, mink, and vodka are not made in Russia.
Petrossian has not imported anything from Russia for the last 8 years. The world’s largest caviar distributor sources its product from the U.S., Israel, Europe, and China.
“The Russians have only one farm that produces caviar and it’s not a big farm,” noted chairman Alexandre Petrossian.
In the 1920s, the Petrossian brothers made fish eggs into an immaculate delicacy by selling Caspian Sea beluga to the high-society of Paris.
Fast forward nearly a century, and they’re selling farm-raised sturgeon eggs from America to Americans. (From $53 to $394 an ounce.)
A spoonful of their top-of-the-line Tsar Nicoulai -- farmed in Sacramento -- is pictured here. It is considered the world's best.
Thanks to overfishing, pollution and poaching for the ascent of farmed caviar, The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has restricted imports and exports since 2005.
It is why Russian beluga is hard to come by, and -- since American caviar passed elitist epicurean taste tests -- why farmers are having a field day.
Sterling Caviar, a Sacramento, California based producer has four producing farms and an exclusive contract with Petrossian. The majority of their caviar goes to them. The farms are expected to generate around $10 million in revenue just this year.
If, however, you simply must have Caspian caviar, ask the company for proof of origin by its CITES number. A few small purveyors, like the Black Caviar Company, are using this to their advantage by slapping the regulator’s seal on their tins.
The next time you see a seductress swathed in a mink coat, you can think: 'Hey! you got that from Denmark.' (Or Finland, or North America - but almost certainly not from Russia.)
People think mink furs are Russian because of the way they’ve dressed for centuries -- from the aristocracy on down.
Denmark is the largest producer of mink, which makes up 75% of fur sales, with Finland and North America as the second and third largest producers, respectively.
Drink Like a Russian
Globally, the two biggest vodka brands are Smirnoff and Absolut, according to market research firm Statista. Neither are Russia-made, despite Russian marketing references.
Absolut, like fellow market heavyweight Svedka, is made out of Sweden.
Smirnoff states on its website that the spirit "traces its heritage back to 19th century Russia," but today’s Smirnoff has more to do with Illinois than Russia.
The majority of all Smirnoff for the US is made and bottled at a production site in Plainfield, Illinois.
Even the Stolichnaya bottles that you see in so many bar wells in the United States don’t hail from Mother Russia -- rather they’re produced by a private company out of Luxembourg.
That group, SPI, was hit by a #dumpstoli boycott from gay groups in 2013 in protest against Russia’s anti-LGBT policies – and has striven to separate itself from the image of the Russian government. (The latter produces its own version of Stoli, which is sold domestically.)
And Popov, that purveyor of cheap plastic handles for college parties, may boast an onion dome on its label – but it, too, is owned by British conglomerate Diageo. It is bottled in the U.S.