The “food of the czars” is ever more an Italian phenomenon
We set out to discover Agroittica along with General Manager Carla Sora (in the photo), to understand what goes into the production of these precious sturgeon eggs.
by francesca corradi
The bestselling farmed caviar in the world isn’t from Russia or Iran and doesn’t come from the north. It is entirely made in Italy.
Calvisano Agroittica Lombarda, which is known for its Calvisius Caviar and Ars Italica Calvisius (Italian Caviar srl has a 35% stake) brands, was the first company in the world to create a large-scale sturgeon breeding farm. It has done this thanks to a sustainable model that combines industry, breeding and agriculture, and, even today, its know-how is something the entire industry relies on, as it produces 20% of the sturgeon eggs bred in tanks worldwide. Its 60 hectares of tanks is home to the greatest variety of caviar in the world, setting the standards in the market both in terms of quantity as well as quality.
Though Italy is the third caviar producer in the world, Italians only consume 10%. The rest — 90% — is exported to 14 different countries.
From CFO to General Manager of Agroittica…What led to you taking this new role?
Giuseppe Pasini – president of Confindustria in Brescia and the Feralpi group – called me and asked me to work on the growth of the brand and the organizational structure of Agroittica. I have about 20 years of experience as a cfo, and it hasn’t been easy for me to transition to a company that is so complex with a production cycle for the eggs that lasts about 16 years.
Your company represents 20% of worldwide production of caviar farmed in tanks.
Yes, we breed 14 of the 21 species that exist in nature, and we have the best fish in terms of quality rankings.
Exports seem to be your strong point…
We sell almost 90% of our caviar abroad, and we have two branches, in the U.S. and France. Our main markets are France, the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, and, in Russia, we sell Calvisius Caviar, which is our top-of-the-line brand. We can be found in the best restaurants, international gourmet shops and first-class cabins of the most important airlines.
What is your secret?
First and foremost, a team made up of people and professionalism.
This was the “food of the gods,” actually the czars…
The price of “black gold” is determined both by production costs as well as the quality of the eggs. Quality caviar ranges from 2,000 euros a kilo all the way to 8,000 euros a kilo. From the time the sturgeon is born, it takes from 5 to 6 years to determine the sex of the fish. From every female fish in the trasmontanus species, caviar can be extracted only after 14 years and only once in a lifetime.
With the recent acquisition of Fjord, there is now a “hub” in Lombardy for fish products…
At the end of 2017, we made an investment in business diversification by acquiring Fjord, a top company in the production of smoked-fish products — mainly salmon, swordfish and tuna — with the objective of promoting the brand by focusing on the fact that it is made in Italy. We’ve been able to offer jobs to about 100 people.
Can you give us a general idea of what future growth looks like?
We had sales of more than 23 million euros in 2017. With the recent acquisition of the Fjord company, we will strengthen our production capabilities in Italy and try to compete with products from Poland, which represent 80% of that market.