A worldwide shortage of caviar means prices could rise steeply over the coming months, following a United Nations decision to halt exports.
|A luxury in short supply? Caviar producers have refused to comply with a UN agreement to protect sturgeon|
The move to freeze trade follows the failure by the main exporting countries - including Russia and Kazakhstan - to comply with an agreement to protect sturgeon, an endangered species.
As a result, once the 2003 harvest has been consumed, the supply of caviar could dry up.
Ramin Rohgar of Imperial Caviar, a supplier to airlines, restaurants and hotels, warned that prices had already started to rise. "Our stocks are good but prices are edging up. Airlines such as Lufthansa and British Airways have responded by taking caviar off the menu," he said.
Both restaurants and hotels are expected to suffer from the shortage. Michael Kean, executive sous chef at the Dorchester hotel in London said he had already noticed prices were on the up. "We have seen increases but we're lucky to have loyal suppliers. If things don't improve, it could have a major effect on menus."
In the long term, Rohgar thinks controlling exports now could be beneficial for the industry. "Export quotas should be reduced, maybe even for a year or two," he said. "It's a small price to pay to get numbers in the wild shooting up again."
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 9 September 2004