Caviar Sampler
Try a bit of everything—purely for research and education, of course. Photograph courtesy of Fire Bird restaurant in New York City.





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December 2005

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Fish, Seafood & Caviar

Caviar Prices

If You Have To Ask You Can Still Afford It (Just Not Every Day)

Jump down to price list


Note: As of October 1, 2005 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put Caspian sturgeon on the Endangered Species list and banned the import of Caspian Sea caviars. However, for educational purposes, we have left all information intact.

Even assuming equal quality—a big assumption—buying caviar is an apples and oranges proposition. You have to have do a lot of math just to compare the costs from retailer to retailer.

Retailers pack different sizes: some sell 1, 3.5 and 6.5 ounce containers; others offer only 2, 5 and 7 ounce sizes. Some sell in grams.

Names vary based on geography—Siberian Osetra, Iranian Osetra, California Estate Osetra, Select California Osetra—but what do they mean in terms of quality? And what’s Asetra? Is it a variable spelling, or a different product altogether?

Go to Petrossian’s website, and buying Beluga seems as complex (and costly) as buying diamonds. There’s Royal Beluga Caviar for $3,420, Tsar Imperial Beluga Caviar for $3,150, and Imperial Reserve Persicus Caviar—not even called Beluga anywhere in the description, as if those who can pony up the $3,420 are endowed with the knowledge. All of these names, by the way, are Petrossian’s proprietary names for different grades of Beluga caviar, i.e., “marketing,” and all prices given for 17-3/4 ounces, or 500 grams.

But even at slightly lesser levels of luxury, one longs for an impartial caviar advisor to say: “This is what to do!” Or else, one longs to have enough money not to worry about whether one spends an extra $1,000 this way or that. (For those feeling faint—read on, there are lovely non-sturgeon caviars that don’t require skipping a mortgage payment.)

Yes, if only it were apples and oranges, it wouldn’t make much difference; but when the product can cost more than $3,000 a pound, some people might like to do due diligence. Unfortunately, as with mattresses, the industry makes it difficult rather than easy, for consumers to compare the facts.

So, a few words of wisdom:

  • Buy from merchants with excellent reputations—ask friends who enjoy caviar where they buy it from, or ask restaurateurs and caterers—they’ll know good sources.
  • Question bargains from companies you don’t know, especially those with no bricks and mortar presence. What is your redress if there’s a problem? Fine companies sell online as well as not-so-fine ones. We saw an excellent price on a website that claimed a midtown address in our city, New York. We e-mailed to ask if we could pick up the caviar in person. We got a one-word e-mail back: “No.” They could have been a bit more customer-friendly and said, “Sorry, the caviar isn’t here—it is shipped directly from our warehouse in Maine.” So we decided not to spend several hundred dollars with them. If you want to test the waters, buy a tiny amount.
  • Seek others who can guide you.
  • Read articles by experts—there’s a lot online, including on the websites of specialty caviar merchants.
  • Become a student—restaurants with caviar sampler plates are a great place to start.
  • Don’t fret if you pay more—think of caviar as a pursuit where you pay for the pleasure, not the bargain.

Price Comparisons

Caviar prices vary widely based on quality, season (prices go up during Christmas season due to supply and demand), and individual merchant margins. Products that sound the same can vary, e.g., different species of salmon or American sturgeon caviar. As with most foods, there is no rating scale to compare caviar from one emporium to another.

American Sturgeon Caviar: Hackleback

$54/4 oz - $108/8 oz - $216/16 oz *


*Price and photo from

american sturgeon caviar hackleback
American Sturgeon Caviar: Lake

$12/1 oz - $48/4 oz - $94/8oz


Farmed in the Midwest. Price and photo from

Lake Sturgeon
American Sturgeon Caviar: Wild Atlantic


atlantic sturgeon
American Sturgeon Caviar: White

$62/1 oz - $124/2 oz - $248/4 oz - $496/8 oz‡


Farmed in the Pacific Northwest. Price from

lake sturgeon
California Estate Osetra

$59/1 oz - $138/2 oz - $345/5 oz‡


Farmed in California’s Central Valley from white sturgeon. ‡Price and photo courtesy

CA Estate Osetra
Select California Estate Osetra

$69/1 oz - $138/2 oz - $265/5 oz‡


Farmed in California’s Central Valley from white sturgeon. ‡Price and photo courtesy of Tsar Nicoulai.

Select Osetra

$54/2 oz - $135/5oz - $189/7 oz‡

A wild caviar. ‡Price and photo courtesy of


$136/1 oz- $272/2 oz- $680/5 oz‡

Golden Iranian Asetra, traditionally reserved for the Shahs of Iran. ‡ Photo courtesy Collins Caviar.


$16/1oz - $32/2oz - $56/3.5 - $112/7oz ‡

The roe of the Herring. A product of Spain. Price and photo from


$359/1-3/4 ounces  - $885/4-3/8 ounces, $2,618/13-1/4 ounces

The largest sturgeon, mainly from the Caspian and Black Seas. Price and photo from


$17/1 oz - $44/3.5 oz - $76/6.5 oz†


From the bowfin of the American South; also called Choupique and Cajun Caviar.
†Collins Caviar. Photo courtesy Collins Caviar.


$$1.00 - $2.25/ounce, depending on color†


Capelin Roe, or Masago, are eggs of the smelt. †At

Golden Whitefish

$10/ 2 oz - $17.50/3.5 oz - $32.50/6.5 oz

†Price and photo courtesy of


$38/1oz - $98/3.5 oz - $172/6.5 oz †

$48/2oz - $120/5 oz - $168/7oz ‡

From the wild American Hackleback sturgeon.
† ‡ Photo courtesy Collins Caviar.

Infused Whitefish

$16/1oz - $36/3.5 oz / $64/6.5 oz†

Numerous flavors from beet and mango to jalapeño and wasabi.
†Price from Photo courtesy of


$3.38/1oz, $5.75/2oz, $11/4oz, $17.63/7oz

Red caviar specifically from the Keta salmon. Price and photo courtesy of


$3.50/2 oz - $4.90/3.5 oz - $14.70/12 oz


A dyed caviar from the North American lumpfish. Price from

red lumpfish

$89/1 oz - $178/2 oz - $356/4 oz - $712/8 oz


A medium-size sturgeon, mainly from the Caspian and Black seas. Price and photo from

iranian osetra

$38/1 oz - $98/3.5 oz - $172/6.5 oz†

A relative of the sturgeon, also called spoonbill and spoonfish, from the Mississippi River system.

†Price and photo from


$70/1 oz - $305/4.4 oz - $2,405 - 2.2 lbs

Price and photo from


$16/1 oz - $42/3.5 oz - $72.00

Salmon caviar is available from different species of salmon. Prices above for Freshwater Salmon caviar from


$44.95/1oz - $89.90/2 oz - $359.60/8 oz

Prices and photo from


$14-16 / $36-$42/ $64-$72

Can be whitefish or gravlax or other roes. Price and photo from

smoked caviar

$12/1oz - $30/3.5 oz - $55/6.5 oz†

From Icelandic and Caribbean flying fish. Can be orange, red, or black. † Photo courtesy Collins Caviar.


$20/2 oz - $35/3.5 oz - $65/6.5‡

‡Prices and photo from  


$9/1 oz - $24/3.5 oz - $40/6.5 oz†

Prices and photo from





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