Very Good Caviar
Kaluga Queen has walked a “long road” to win the trust of customers since the company produced its first jar in 2006, Xia said.
Chinese caviar had to overcome skepticism from foreign clients who were used to headlines about food scandals, from contaminated milk powder to soy sauce containing arsenic and rice tainted with cadmium.
“A few years ago, customers were reluctant when we talked about Chinese caviar,” said Raphael Bouchez, president of Kaviari, a Paris-based supplier to renowned restaurants.
Bouchez convinced customers by explaining how Chinese producers raise fish and use methods that respect the environment.
“Chinese caviar, it must be said, is a very good caviar,” Bouchez said.
“That said, many of the chefs still do not want it. They prefer to have caviar from France, Uruguay, or elsewhere,” he said.
Today, Kaluga Queen has an annual turnover of 220 million yuan and counts among its customers German airline Lufthansa and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, a two Michelin stars restaurant in Shanghai.
Distributors supply other restaurants around the world, and one buyer said he had delivered one shipment to Kim Jong Un, according to Xia.
French chef Guy Savoy, whose Paris restaurant has three Michelin stars and is rated the best in the world, uses Chinese caviar with skate wings and scallops.
“The label ‘made in China’ does not matter,” Savoy told AFP. “The important thing is the quality of the breeding. Those supplied to us are of remarkable quality.”
Lily Liu, Kaluga Queen’s marketing manager, hopes someone else can try her company’s caviar.
“We hope that Donald Trump will taste our caviar and say: ‘I like it! Let’s reduce tariffs and help Chinese caviar conquer America!”
PHOTOS BY WANG ZHAO/afp