Learn more about the Caviar Diaries as our adventure comes to a close.
Mottras’ production team have learned from the best. Dmitry’s dad was very influential in the production of caviar in the Soviet Union, and now he runs several fish enterprises. His son does a great job in creating a very new brand associated with caviar and in constantly improving the quality of the caviar and in perfecting the design of the packaging. This is successful in the west but it’s harder to do in the home territory. Most consumers are used to the blue tins they had for decades in the CCCP. But Dmitry is clever; he takes a very small amount of his Mottra-production and puts it into glasses with blue labels. So everyone gets what he wants. It’s obvious that more than 50% of caviar consumers are driven by image and not by taste.
This means that you can earn millions with caviar; it attracts all kinds of business and the caviar production itself is constantly a political issue. There is a state monopoly on it in Kazakhstan and other countries and private companies have to pay high taxes. Prices for black caviar vary from $6000 and $12,000 per kilo. As a result there is also a lot of fraud going on. I heard a story from Iveta, the PR officer at Mottra, that there are some black sheep in the business, who like to produce fake caviar. They take tasteless roe made by other fish, paint it black and sell it for ridiculous amounts of money. This is of course bad for the whole industry because it destroys faith in a good product.
But there are other ways. Mottras’ production is quite ecological as it circulates the water of the fish and cleans it with biological bacteria. The clean water comes from the ground, from their own fountain, and is constantly kept at 20 °C – it also has to kept running so that it simulates the real feeling of a genuine sea. They tried for five years to receive the best results and had to use all the expertise they had. Now they breed thousands of Osetra and Sterlet sturgeons; in total 80,000 kilograms of fish.
When a sturgeon has a full load of roe, it takes up 10% of its own bodyweight. Then specialists milk the fish and put it back in the water. After each harvest it takes another 18 months for the surgeon to be ready again. This process takes a lot of effort and is very costly. In the conservation process, 3.5% salt is added – this amount is also referred to as Malosol. This term is Russian and you will find it on most caviar labels; it translates to “not much salt”.
To say that Mottras caviar is the best caviar in the world is a bold statement – and I like boldness. Eventually it always comes down to personal taste. But because the caviar is fresher here and the source is totally under supervision and clean, it surely delivers supreme quality. But who am I to judge. I would much rather have a caviar edition of La Sardina in my hands than to try all the different kinds of roe. Each to their own!
I always really sympathize with a young entrepreneur; Dmitry is only in his twenties and is passionately emerging in what is a very old market. Together with his partners he tries to mix the old with new. This goes for Riga itself, too. A marvellous city with an ancient core of German and patrician heritage. It’s also filled with a young, beautiful and motivated generation of Europeans that are about to surprise the west. A great mix of the past and the present with a grand geopolitical position between the north and south, west and east.
Caviar Diaries was written by Willie Schumann. Visit his LomoHome here
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