0940 GMT October 07, 2022
Talking to Iran Daily, the director general of the Office of Recovering and Protecting the Aquatic Genetic Resources of IFO said Iranian caviar is exported through both official channels (in large volumes via customs gates) and unofficial ones (taken overseas by foreign tourists in their luggage).
Nasser Karami-Rad added that “We witnessed an increase in exports in both ways during this [Iranian] year.”
"According to statistics by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA), during the first nine months of the current [Iranian] year, 3,298 kilograms of caviar were officially exported from the country's customs gates, while the corresponding figure for preceding year was 1,580 kilograms."
The annual export of caviar in the year to March 20, 2021 amounted to 2,281 kilograms, added the IFO official.
Karami-Rad noted that during the year to March 20, 2021, the exports of Iranian caviar by passengers was estimated four tons, while 5.5 tons exports have been estimated for the first nine months of the current Iranian year.
Regarding the quality of Iranian caviar, he said: "Iranian caviar is a well-known brand across the globe and experts consider it the best caviar in the world."
“Currently, the most valuable caviar in the world belongs to beluga sturgeon, and according to the latest statistics by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Iran is world's largest exporter of beluga caviar,” the IFO official added.
He noted that currently all Iranian caviar for export is cultured caviar that is produced in sturgeon farms.
"But in terms of exports of all species of sturgeon, Iran ranks 14th in the world," the official added.
Official figures for the first nine months of the current Iranian year show that 1,500 tons of sturgeon meat as well as 11.2 tons of caviar were extracted in the country, Karami-Rad announced.
"This is while in the past Iranian year, the total production of caviar hit 12 tons while 3,500 tons of sturgeon meat were produced,” he added. “It indicates that the three-quarter production for year is approximately equal to the total production of last year."
In regards to meat production, he explained that, "According to the latest statistics of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which was released in 2019, Iran ranked fourth in the world in producing sturgeon meat after China, Armenia, and Russia."
With the plans made for the next decade, Iran will be the second largest producer of sturgeon meat after China, the official said.
He explained: "Currently, there are 147 licensed large and active sturgeon farms in the country, and in addition, a sum of 30 other small and medium farms are operating across the country."
A total of 177 farms are operating in 22 provinces of the country with an annual capacity of over 7,500 tons of sturgeon meat and more than 100 tons of caviar output, the official said.
He added: "Since sturgeon is a slow-growing fish, the process of increasing production in this sector is gradual and time-consuming.”
It takes at least two to three years for sturgeon to be used for meat production while it takes eight to 10 years to take caviar from the kind of fish, Karami-Rad explained adding that caviar in some species is obtained in four to five years.
He said: "Currently, Iranian caviar is one of the most expensive and valuable caviars in the world, and Iranian beluga caviar is mainly sold in the world market for between €900 and €1,000 per kilogram."
Most domestic sturgeon production farms are located in the northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran, where almost 50 percent of Iran’s total caviar is produced, Karami-Rad noted.
According to recent statistics, Mazandaran, Gila,n and Fars provinces have the first to third ranks of caviar production in the country, respectively, he concluded.