Caviar is practically synonymous with fabulous wealth and extravagance. It features prominently in parties thrown by Russian oil barons, has made an appearance on a $1,000 pizza, and was even used to moisturize the skin of first son Barron Trump. Yes, caviar is definitely some high-end stuff — but why? What elevates humble fish eggs to such an exalted status?
Well, for starters, they’re not just any fish eggs. All fish eggs are known as roe, but only the eggs of the sturgeon are given the designation of caviar. What’s more, there are only 27 varieties of sturgeon, and 18 of these are on a list of threatened species, making sturgeon the planet’s most endangered group of species. And the rarer sturgeon and its eggs become, the more we value them, since scarcity seems to feed demand (just like with Popeyes and its sold-out chicken sandwiches).
Yet another factor that increases the cost of caviar is the fact that these fish eggs must be harvested by hand, and any process that can’t be automated incurs higher labor costs. And let’s not forget the “snob appeal” — caviar has long been marketed as a food fit for the aristocracy, so naturally it’s got to have a price tag that goes along with its image.
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