Developing a Certifiable Quality Standard for Nordic Caviar
DESCRIPTION OF THE PROBLEM
Russian caviar is considered one of the finest delicacies in the world. The industry is huge and is often referred to as „the black gold“, by fishermen and exporters around the Caspian Sea. Russian sturgeon caviar has built a worldwide reputation in a way that the product itself has become a “brand “. The Nordic countries have traditional experience in producing caviar from different fish such as: salmon, trout, capelin, lumpfish, vendace, and burbot. But the Nordic countries haven’t managed to put its caviar on the map in the same way as the Russians have. The Nordic caviar is simply a commodity and it has no particular outstanding reputation to go along with the label stating which fish it is from. How can we make our caviar be more than just a commodity and earn a recognizable quality stamp to build a reputation on the world markets? Let us look at what the Russians did. There is an important endorsement that goes along with the Russian caviar that makes it fetch premium prices. It is not difficult to find sturgeon caviar at moderate prices from several exporters, even from Russian vendors. But the important classification that must go along with Russian caviar in order to be “real” Russian caviar is the constituent “quality control” stamp: CIBPO (a cooperative from soviet time, now JSC Russian Caviar on exported products). The best way to understand it, is to see it as an „iso 9000“ certification of the Russian caviar, that guarantees that the product meets certain minimum quality and manufacturing process requirements - for instance.: harvesting, handling, cleaning, salting, canning etc. No fine restaurant in the world, with any reputation and respect for itself will touch Russian sturgeon caviar without the cooperative’s quality seal on the tin.
STATE OF THE ART
The Russians have basically had a virtual monoply in this market for over a century. Only recently (post Soviet break up), the Iranian and Kazhakstan producers have tried to gain market from the Russians. They have to some extent succeeded, however they have not really managed to build it into a solid "brand" and diversified "experience" such as the tradition and style associated with Russian caviar. And in relation to competition with the Nordic producers, the Iranian and Kazhakstan caviar is also concentrated on the sturgeon species.
INNOVATION POTENTIAL / NOVELTY
This project adheres to the classical innovation principle of “adding value to a basic commodity product”, through quality control, branding, and diversifying it into a new customer experience. No alliance of fish processors have made a unified "seal of approval" for producing caviar from other fish species than the sturgeon, and thereby challenged the Russian oligarchy, and virtual monopoly on luxury caviar. It is a visionary and bold attempt to pursue a completely new market segment, and compete on the lucrative high end market of caviar, and thereby innovate the entire Nordic caviar industry.
This makes sense, since the process before the caviar reaches the tin has an absolute effect on the final taste. For example salmon caviar in itself can be as diverse in taste as a selection of red wine. Salmon caviar is not simply salmon caviar. In order to create a loyal customer base our region needs to make sure that we can present a consistent, recognizable, trustworthy, and safe product. Another point is that Russian caviar is sold as an experience. Knowing that you are actually eating caviar that costs a fortune per each small teaspoon that you consume is an important part of the experience that ads to the taste. You will not get this experience unless it has the real quality stamp on the tin. It is a little bit like wearing a perfect counterfeit copy of a DolceGabana shirt, it just doesn’t make you as satisfied as the real thing, even if you cannot really tell the difference.
Russian caviar has built a worldwide reputation. Nordic caviar is simply a commodity. The Russians have basically had a virtual monopoly on this exclusive label. No alliance of fish processors have made a unified "seal of approval" for producing caviar from other fish species than the sturgeon, and thereby challenged the Russian oligarchy, and virtual monopoly on luxury caviar. In order to create a loyal customer base our region needs to make sure that we can present a consistent, recognizable, trustworthy, and safe product. We need to create a luxury experience to go along with our Nordic caviar.
Our goal is to develop a Nordic standard and quality seal for caviar produced in the Nordic region and escalate Nordic caviar into a global leading and recognized brand by customers.. The project will aim at outlining the process description from manufacturing to marketing, especially concerning quality control, processing and to some extent a harmonization of the taste and experience provided to the customer. This will still leave room for traders who wish to simply compete on the commodity market, the same way that you can still buy cheaper commodity priced sturgeon caviar from Russia in a variety of brands and manufacturers outside of the cooperative. Historically the Russian cooperative dates back to the Tsar times, and can to some extent be historically compared to the Scandinavian term: By Appointment to the Royal Court.