Small Sichuan city ranks second in global caviar production with annual output of 60 tons

By Zhang Yiyi (Global Times) 09:25, July 08, 2024

The city of Ya'an, Southwest China's Sichuan Province has risen to second position in the global caviar production market, CCTV reported on Sunday. Caviar is originally sourced from Russia and Iran.

Fourteen percent of caviar worldwide comes from this small Chinese city, and is exported to more than 30 countries, featuring in top hotels like Dubai's Burj Al Arab, Paris's Galeries Lafayette, and various Michelin-starred restaurants. High-end international chains are increasingly recognizing the quality of Sichuan's caviar, according to CCTV.

"Our caviar comes from sturgeon over 10 years old and is mainly for export. We mainly export to Europe, the US, the Middle East, and Asia," an employee from Frosista Caviar, the representative caviar-producing corporation in Ya'an on Tmall, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The product is also becoming increasingly popular on the domestic market, despite a slight price increase due to higher costs and other factors, with the high quality and nutrition increasingly drawing 'tasters', according to the employee.

Caviar's value stems from the lengthy breeding cycle of sturgeon, taking at least 7 to 8 years to mature, and intricate processing that requires over ten steps within 15 minutes to ensure freshness. With strong market demand and declining wild sturgeon resources, caviar prices have steadily risen, cementing its status as a global luxury.

Ya'an, located in an inland basin, produces high-quality caviar primarily due to the superior high-mountain glacier meltwater which is free from industrial pollution, providing an excellent water source for sturgeon growth, Fan Xubing, the chairman of Seabridge Marketing, a China-based international company in the fishing sector, and also an aquatic industry insider and analyst, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Successful sturgeon farming requires fresh water, proper water sources, and investment in technology, all of which Ya'an has, making it perfect for caviar production," Fan said.

"The high production volume, competitive price, and high quality of the Chinese caviar make it popular worldwide, particularly in the US market," Fan added.

In 2023, Ya'an processed 60 tons of caviar, raising its global market share from 12 percent in 2022 to 14 percent. Of this, 45 tons were exported, generating $12.71 million in revenue, a 25 percent increase, according to the data from Ya'an's government.

The prominence of Ya'an caviar is an example of the thriving caviar industry in China, industry observers said.

The main reason for China's large-scale caviar production is its breakthrough in the global challenge involved in wild sturgeon farming, according to The Paper.cn. "China's sturgeon breeding and processing industry has become one of the largest in the world, bringing Chinese caviar to the global market," Fan said.

From January to May 2024, China exported 88,407 kg of caviar, an 11.1 percent increase compared to the 79,566 kg exported during the same period last year, according to data from the General Administration of Customs of China.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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