29 May 2024

New Zealand's brief caviar season under way with all to be sold domestically

7:36 am on 29 May 2024
Mt Cook Alpine Salmon caviar

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon caviar Photo: Mt Cook Alpine Salmon

New Zealand's brief caviar harvest is underway in the Mackenzie District.

Salmon fish roe differs from the traditional delicacy of sturgeon fish caviar found abroad - being a lot brighter with a more intense flavour.

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon is the only company in New Zealand growing salmon for their roe, or caviar.

The company, which farms king salmon in canals in the McKenzie District, started selling caviar three years ago - and now this year's harvest has begun.

Chief executive David Cole said it was going really well and they now had a special farm to grow salmon simply for their roe.

"The fish grow to around 7, 8, 9 kilograms, we feed them with special feed that has a higher level of protein to get extra growth - it takes about three to four years to grow a fish that size before we can harvest and collect the eggs."

Cole said about a kilo of caviar was collected from each fish and this season they were expecting to harvest about 500kg.

"Sales are going really well, we have a lot of interest from high-end restaurants, especially in Auckland," he said.

'We're growing production year on year but only by small amounts as we have limitations on the amount of fish we can dedicate to the caviar process."

Cole said with the season only lasting weeks, the company makes a point of celebrating it each year.

"The product has a short shelf life so we sell it all domestically but we're getting smarter with the way we're collecting and packaging our caviar and we're doing some work with our product development team in Christchurch to see how we can extend the shelf life.

"If we get that right we might be able to sell internationally, I know our sales manager would love to present our caviar to Harrods in London."