How Much is Caviar? Why Is It So Expensive?

Caviar has long been associated with luxury and high-class dining and is considered the best form of fish roe. However, the cost of caviar often leaves many people wondering just how much this delicacy costs.

Black caviar in a wooden bowl on old fabric

This article will look into the different types of caviar available, their price ranges, and the reasons behind their high cost.

By understanding the factors that affect the price of caviar, you can gain insight into what makes it so valuable and appreciate it even more.

Whether you are a seasoned caviar enthusiast or simply curious about this delicacy, this article will provide a comprehensive overview of the world of caviar and its significance in high-class dining.

What Is Caviar?

Caviar is the roe, or the eggs, of wild sturgeon fish. These fish are typically found in the Caspian and Black Sea regions, and humans have harvested their eggs for centuries due to their flavor and texture.

Black caviar on silver vintage plate close-up

The term “caviar” is a general one that covers the fish roe of multiple species of sturgeon.

The most popular types of caviar are Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga. 

The eggs are extracted from the fish and are then processed and salted, creating the delicious, savory flavor that caviar is well known for.

Sturgeon fish are slow-growing and can take up to a decade to mature. They become commercially viable once they reach six to seven years of age.

Black lumpfish caviar in a small pot and spoon close up

This slow growth rate is one of the reasons why caviar can be so expensive.

Why? This means that the supply of sturgeon roe is limited, as obtaining wild caviar is a delicate and time-consuming process, ultimately making the product a rare and valuable commodity.

Other Varieties

While sturgeon caviar is the most well-known type, there are other varieties available, including shovelnose sturgeon, Siberian sturgeon, and hackleback sturgeon.

Black Caviar in a spoon on dark background

These varieties are less expensive than Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga caviar.

In addition to fish roe, caviar can be harvested from salmon, trout, and other types of fish.

However, these varieties are less expensive than sturgeon or other fish roe and are considered lower quality.

People still choose to use this “lower quality” caviar for things like omelets, tartars, and other dishes due to its accessibility and affordability.

Keep reading for more information on the various costs of caviar.

How Much Does Caviar Cost?

Regarding the price of caviar, you can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars for a pound.

Toasts with black caviar on a stone plate

The high price tag is because sturgeon is an endangered species, and their eggs are extremely rare.

However, the cost can also vary depending on the quality of the caviar.

The cost of caviar is typically determined by factors such as the rarity of the sturgeon species, the fish’s age, the farm’s location, and the processing method used.

The highest quality caviar is Beluga caviar, which comes from a specific species of sturgeon found in the Caspian Sea.

This caviar is known for its large, smooth eggs and delicate flavor and can cost over $10,000 per pound.

On the other hand, lower-quality caviar can be made from the roe of other fish, such as salmon or trout, and may be artificially flavored or processed.

This type of caviar can be significantly cheaper, ranging from $30 to $100 per pound.

While the best caviar is still considered a luxury item, it’s certainly possible to find quality options at more affordable prices if you’re willing to do your research.

What Is the Most Expensive Caviar?

The most expensive caviar is a rare form of the Beluga, as mentioned above, called “Almas.”

Red caviar in tartlets on a black background

It’s a golden caviar that comes from a rare type of albino, female sturgeon between 60 to 100 years old.

Since Beluga sturgeon is an endangered species, there’s a ban on its harvesting in many countries.

As a result, the supply of beluga caviar is extremely limited, driving up prices even further.

Why Is Caviar So Expensive?

The rarity and limited supply of sturgeon, coupled with the difficulty in harvesting sturgeon roe, the differences in flavor and texture, its nutritional value, caviar production, and customer demand, all contribute to the high cost of caviar.

Difficulty Harvesting

The process of harvesting sturgeon roe is a labor-intensive and time-consuming task, making it one of the biggest factors contributing to the high cost of caviar.

Black caviar in can on ice with spoon

The sturgeon fish species are slow-growing, taking up to a decade to reach maturity, and then can only be harvested once every few years.

Additionally, it can take several hours to harvest the roe from a single sturgeon, and cleaning and processing the eggs can take several more hours.

This labor-intensive process requires skilled laborers, and their wages also add to the cost of caviar.

Limited Geographical Region

The Caspian and Black Sea regions are the main sources of sturgeon fish, and political instability and overfishing have severely depleted the populations in these areas.

Red salmon caviar with parsley in a bowl

This has led to a decrease in the supply of sturgeon roe, which has contributed to the high cost of caviar.

On top of that, sturgeon fish are an endangered species, and harvesting their eggs is heavily regulated by international laws.

The limited supply of sturgeon roe makes it a rare and valuable commodity, increasing caviar prices even further.

Despite these challenges, caviar remains a sought-after delicacy that is enjoyed by many across the world.

Flavor and Texture

The flavor and texture of caviar are other crucial factors that affect the product’s price.

Red and black caviar in silver spoons on the dark table

High-quality caviar is typically more flavorful and has a firmer texture than lower-quality varieties, making it more desirable to customers.

More specifically, caviar that has been harvested from sturgeon that has been fed a varied and natural diet will have a more complex flavor profile than those fed on commercial fish feed.

Furthermore, the taste and texture of caviar can also vary depending on the species of sturgeon from which it is harvested, with some species producing eggs that are more buttery and creamy than others.

Due to the unique taste and texture of high-quality caviar, it is often considered a luxury item and commands a premium price.

Nutritional Value

Caviar’s nutritional value is another reason it is a high-priced food item.

traditional Russian delicacy red and black caviar

Caviar is considered a rich source of protein, essential for building and repairing muscles.

It also contains unsaturated fatty acids, which have been linked to numerous health benefits.

Caviar is often considered one of the world’s healthiest foods due to its high levels of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, iron, and calcium.

As a result, caviar is often recommended by nutritionists as a dietary supplement for people with specific nutritional deficiencies. 

Consumer Demand

People want things they can’t have or that they can have, but it’s challenging for other people to get.

Wooden bowl with delicious red caviar on table

That said, the supply and demand dynamics play a significant role in determining the high cost of caviar.

The limited supply of caviar due to the slow growth rate of sturgeon, coupled with high demand from consumers, drives up the price of this luxurious food item.

Additionally, as caviar is perceived as a status symbol and associated with fine dining experiences, the demand for this product is often artificially inflated by those who can afford it.

Caviar producers also understand the value of exclusivity, and as such, they often limit the amount of caviar produced, further driving up the demand and price.

All of these factors work together to make caviar prices so high, making eating caviar accessible only to those with the means and willingness to pay for it.


Interested in learning more about caviar and its associated costs? Here are our answers to a few commonly asked questions about caviar. 

fresh grainy black paddlefish caviar in brown wooden spoon

How much does 1 ounce of caviar cost?

The cost of 1 ounce of caviar can vary widely, depending on the type and quality of the product. However, in general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $200 for a single ounce of caviar.

How much does a serving of caviar cost?

A serving of caviar typically consists of around 1-2 ounces of the product, depending on the occasion and the number of people you serve. 

Prices for a serving of caviar can range from around $100 to several thousand dollars, depending on the type and quality of the caviar.

How much is 1 lb of caviar?

The price of a pound of caviar can vary depending on the type of caviar, where it’s sold, and the quality of the product.

Generally, a pound of caviar can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

For example, Beluga caviar can cost around $7,000 per pound (up to $10,000 for the rarest varieties), while cheaper alternatives like Shovelnose Sturgeon caviar can cost around $50 to $100 per pound.

What is the cheapest caviar? 

The cheapest caviar usually comes from non-endangered fish species such as Bowfin, Whitefish, and Salmon.

These fish eggs are often used as substitutes for traditional caviar due to their similar taste and texture. A jar of salmon roe can cost around $20 to $30, significantly less expensive than a jar of traditional caviar.

Sandwiches with black sturgeon or beluga caviar close up

Have You Tried Caviar?

Caviar is a luxury food item that people have enjoyed for centuries. While it can be quite expensive, caviar costs are justified by the time, effort, and resources needed to produce it.

True caviar is a rare and exclusive food item that’s not easily accessible, which makes it all the more desirable. Due to its high price, caviar is not an option for everyone and is usually reserved for special occasions and high-end dining experiences.

However, suppose you are looking for a more affordable option for fish eggs. In that case, plenty of alternatives can provide a similar texture and taste, so you can feel fancy without compromising your budget.

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin is an editor and food writer who loves traveling and trying new foods and fun cocktails. Erin has been writing and editing professionally for 5 years since graduating from Temple University, and has been on the Restaurant Clicks team for 3 years. She has a long background working in the restaurant industry, and is an avid home chef and baker. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.