How Much Does Caviar Cost?

Caviar is unfertilized fish eggs used as a delicacy and garnish. The eggs come from different species of sturgeon, salmon, steelhead, lumpfish, and paddlefish. Caviar is one of the most expensive food items in the world, with prices ranging from $100 to $1,000 per ounce depending on type, quality, origin, and other factors.

How Much Is Caviar Per Pound?

On average, caviar costs between $4,000 to $7,000 per pound. However, the most premium caviar like beluga can cost up to $25,000 per pound. As a comparison, farmed salmon roe caviar can cost as low as $500 per pound.

How Much Is Caviar Per Ounce?

The price of caviar per ounce ranges from $100 for lower quality to $1,000 for the highest grades. More specifically:

  • Farmed salmon roe caviar – $30 to $50 per oz
  • American hackleback caviar – $50 to $150 per oz
  • American sturgeon caviar – $200 to $500 per oz
  • Osetra caviar – $500 to $700 per oz
  • Beluga caviar – $800 to $1,000 per oz

How Much Is Caviar Per Gram?

Since there are about 28 grams in an ounce, the per gram price of caviar is:

  • Lowest quality caviar – $4 per gram
  • Medium quality caviar – $15 to $20 per gram
  • Highest quality caviar – $30 to $40 per gram

For example, beluga caviar can cost up to $1,000 per oz, which equals about $36 per gram.

Factors Affecting the Price of Caviar

There are several factors that determine the price of caviar, including:

1. Type of Fish

Caviar from different species of fish vary in quality, taste, texture, and size. Sturgeon caviar is the most prized and expensive, especially beluga. Salmon and steelhead caviar are cheaper. Paddlefish and bowfin caviar are the most affordable.

2. Harvesting Process

Wild caviar is more expensive than farmed caviar. Sturgeons can take up to 20 years to reach maturity and produce quality eggs. Farmed caviar has a faster production cycle. However, wild caviar is perceived as higher quality.

3. Rarity and Availability

Some types of caviar are extremely rare, like beluga from the Caspian Sea, driving prices up. There are also restrictions and quotas on the harvesting of wild caviar to help endangered sturgeon populations recover. Limited supply increases prices.

4. Quality and Taste

The finest caviar comes from older, larger sturgeon that yield firm, large eggs with a refined, nutty flavor. Younger, smaller fish produce lower quality, smaller eggs with a less refined taste.

5. Packaging and Branding

Premium caviar is packaged in tins that maintain freshness. Known brands and luxury labels command higher prices for the perceived quality and exclusivity.

Different Varieties of Caviar and Their Prices

Here are some of the most popular caviar varieties and their typical price ranges:

1. Beluga Caviar

  • From beluga sturgeons in the Caspian Sea
  • Large, deep gray eggs with a buttery, nutty flavor
  • $800 to $1,000+ per oz

2. Osetra Caviar

  • From Russian and Iranian osetra sturgeons
  • Medium brown eggs with a delicate, nutty taste
  • $500 to $700 per oz

3. Sevruga Caviar

  • From sevruga sturgeons, smallest of the sturgeons
  • Small, gray eggs with a strong, briny flavor
  • $300 to $500 per oz

4. American Sturgeon Caviar

  • From American white sturgeon
  • Distinctive medium-sized eggs
  • $200 to $500 per oz

5. Salmon Roe

  • From chum and sockeye salmon
  • Small, bright orange eggs with a salty, ocean flavor
  • $30 to $50 per oz

6. Lumpfish Roe

  • From North Atlantic lumpfish
  • Large eggs similar to sturgeon caviar
  • $15 to $30 per oz

7. Paddlefish Roe

  • From American paddlefish
  • Small black eggs with a mild taste
  • $13 to $15 per oz

8. Hackleback Roe

  • From American hackleback sturgeons
  • Small gray eggs with a delicate flavor
  • $50 to $150 per oz

9. Bowfin Roe

  • From bowfin fish native to North America
  • Small eggs with a soft texture
  • $7 to $10 per oz

10. Tobiko (Flying Fish Roe)

  • From Pacific flying fish
  • Orange-red eggs that pop in the mouth
  • $15 to $20 per oz

As shown above, Sturgeon caviar like osetra and beluga are the most expensive, while salmon, paddlefish, and bowfin caviar are more affordable. Location and species play a big role in determining price.

How to Buy High-Quality Caviar at a Reasonable Price?

While authentic caviar can be expensive, here are tips for getting quality caviar at a more reasonable price:

1. Understand the Grading System

Caviar is graded based on quality, with lower grades (3-4) being more affordable. Know the grading criteria like egg size, texture, and color.

2. Choose a Reputable Seller

Buy from established caviar importers, gourmet stores, or food distributors. Avoid random online sellers with unverifiable sourcing.

3. Consider the Size and Color of the Eggs

Bigger, firmer eggs signal higher quality. Natural color variations indicate quality processing. Avoid dyed or irregularly sized eggs.

4. Check the Ingredients List for Additives or Preservatives

Premium caviar contains only sturgeon roe and salt. Avoid caviar with preservatives, additives, flavors, or dyes.

5. Be Aware of the Shelf Life and Storage Conditions.

Caviar is highly perishable. Choose caviar packed in tins or jars refrigerated at 28°F to 38°F for freshness.

With knowledge and smart buying, you can find deliciously fresh caviar for under $50 per ounce if you avoid the ultra-rare types.

Is Expensive Caviar Worth It?

Whether high-end caviar is worth the price depends on your budget and palate. Aficionados describe top-tier beluga and osetra as having a refined buttery or nutty flavor and a velvety, pop-in-your-mouth texture. The rareness also adds to the appeal.

However, many caviar fans find reasonably priced American hackleback or sturgeon caviar deeply satisfying. And the sustainable farmed varieties like bowfin offer excellent quality at a fraction of the cost. Sowhile beluga caviar remains the ultimate luxury ingredient, excellent tasting caviar can be enjoyed at every budget level.

The Impact of Sustainability on Caviar Pricing

In the past, overfishing of wild Caspian Sea sturgeon led to depleted stocks and high prices for beluga and osetra caviar. Import bans aimed at conservation have stabilized populations, but legal wild caviar remains expensive.

This has led to the rise of farm-raised sturgeon caviar. The sustainable aquaculture methods deliver good volumes of quality roe, keeping prices for farmed osetra and beluga caviar between $500-800 per oz. However, some caviar lovers maintain that wild-caught tastes better.

If sustainability remains a priority, farm-raised caviar may become the norm for most quality caviar. Prices should remain stable if supply keeps pace with demand. But policies that threaten wild sturgeon populations could drive prices for Caspian Sea caviar even higher in the future.

What Are Some Affordable Alternatives to Traditional Caviars?

For those looking for an affordable caviar experience, here are some options under $50 per oz:

  • Whitefish caviar: From the Great Lakes, whitefish caviar offers a similar texture and nuttiness as sturgeon roe for about $30 per oz.
  • Salmon caviar: The small orange eggs have a salty, ocean-like flavor for around $35 per oz.
  • American Paddlefish caviar: Smooth, mild paddlefish eggs cost approximately $20 per oz.
  • Carp or mullet roe: These large eggs are often used in sushi at around $10 per oz.
  • Tobiko: Bright orange flying fish roe adds a nice pop to dishes for $15 per oz.
  • Lumpfish caviar: From North Atlantic fisheries, lumpfish caviar offers large, firm eggs for $25 per oz.
  • Trout caviar: Farmed rainbow trout roe has small eggs and a delicate flavor for $15 to $25 per oz.

With many options under $50 per oz, roe lovers can experience delicious, sustainable caviar across every budget level. Knowledge of the types available helps find quality affordable caviar to enjoy on a regular basis or for special occasions, without breaking the bank.


Caviar remains one of the world’s most prized and expensive delicacies, with beluga sturgeon caviar from the Caspian Sea commanding prices up to $1,000 per ounce. The luxurious taste and texture of top-quality sturgeon caviar distinguishes it as the ultimate special occasion ingredient.

However, excellent affordable caviar alternatives exist. Responsible aquaculture has made quality roe from American sturgeon, salmon, paddlefish, lumpfish, and more available at reasonable prices of $25 to $100 per oz. With knowledge of the types, sources, and flavors, caviar can be incorporated into dishes and enjoyed regularly.

While the finest beluga will remain a rare treat, caviar no longer has to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sustainable harvesting and farming provide more access to this unique delicacy. For those learning about caviar, affordable options offer the chance to explore varieties and find new favorites. With informed buying, roe lovers can find caviar to savor that fits their budget and tastes.