Where to Buy Caviar Online?

Caviar at Browne Trading
Rod Mitchell Grading and Packing Caviar at Browne Trading

Over the years the online market for caviar has grown immensely. With this growth comes more questionable brands of caviar. For this reason, Browne’s owner, Rod Mitchell, put this guide together.

Rod has almost 40 years of experience in the caviar trade and is a leading world expert on the subject. Rod ensures all caviar that leaves Browne Trading Co. is to the highest standard for freshness and quality. 

If you are interested in learning more about how Rod became the expert he is today click here!

The guide includes 6 elements you must look out for:

1.) CHECK THE LABEL

A common red flag is anything pertaining to “Russian Osetra” or “Russian Imperial”. In most cases, “Russian” refers to the species, not the country of origin.

Caviar from the Caspian Sea and all Russian osetra caviar – in fact, ANY wild caviar export –  has been closed since 2005 by CITES ( the Convention for Trade in Endangered Species).

When you see the word “Caspian” on the label you should be wary of what is inside. “Caspian” refers to the sturgeon caught in the Caspian Sea that primarily borders Russia/Iran and remains closed to the export of ANY caviar.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife monitor all caviar imported from outside the United States, and only purveyors with a CITES permit that assures the origin and species of the sturgeon are legitimate.

2.) CAUTION WHEN BUYING “BELUGA”            

Beware of any caviar labeled with “beluga”, “river beluga”, or “Chinese beluga”.

Pure beluga sturgeon are completely banned from import to the United States and is a species that primarily exists in the Caspian Sea. Since beluga sturgeon (huso huso) are globally banned, anything named “river beluga” is most likely its cousin, huso dauricus or kaluga, which originates from China.

Caviar Room at Browne Trading
Rod Mitchell and Browne’s Caviar Director, Richard Hall discussing the latest batch of original caviar tins that have come into Browne.

3.) SIBERIAN STURGEON and OSETRA STURGEON CAVIARS

Caviar that is labeled “siberian osetra” is also misleading. The siberian sturgeon (acipenser baeri) is a separate species than osetra (acipenser gueldenstaedti).

The osetra sturgeon produces a much larger grain than its cousin, the siberian Sturgeon, which is generally a smaller fish.

Quite often, deceiving dealers falsely advertise and sell them interchangeably. Siberian caviar should also be less expensive.

The reason caviar labels wrongfully interchange osetra is because “osetra” literally translates to “sturgeon” in Russian. Because there are so many different species of sturgeon, Browne only uses “osetra” to describe actual osetra sturgeon species.

4.) KNOW THE SPECIES

When shopping for caviar, you should be aware of the species, the country of origin, and the farm harvest date (all legitimate imported caviar is farm-raised due to the protective ban on wild sturgeon stocks).

Every importer is required by federal law to have a CITES Permit to ensure specie accuracy, a “Certificate of Origin”, and a “Labeling Report” that specifies the harvest date.

As a discerning customer, you should be able to request these documents. Beware if a supplier or dealer cannot produce these documents.

5.) TRACEABILITY

You should be able to trace your tin of caviar with a lot number that refers to the supplier’s legal documentation. This is also required by the FDA in case of any food related contamination or recall.

6.) FRESHNESS

gold osetra caviarAll caviar must have a “best by” date. This usually is placed on the container along with the lot number.

At Browne Trading, we take great pride in guaranteeing the highest quality, most transparent, and freshest caviars –without any guesswork as to what you are purchasing – or where and how it was raised. Learn more about the caviars available.

~Rod Browne Mitchell, Owner, and President of Browne Trading Co.