Homestead could get caviar production facility
By Suzy Valentine
Homestead could land a $50 million aquaculture center for the production of caviar by a Miami Beach company.
Caviar Creator, a company with German origins that opened an office on the Beach this year, is weighing other sites in Florida for the operation. The planned 50-acre premises, which the company hopes to open next year, could create 100 to 125 jobs. The business employs five at its Miami Beach base.
"We plan to make a decision in two weeks," said CEO Frank Schaefer, who is emphatic that the company will choose Florida. "We had offers from Louisiana and Mississippi, but we decided to stay here. We will build our next facility in Florida."
Mr. Schaefer said the company also is considering Fort Pierce.
Caviar Creator, a 4-year-old enterprise, has four facilities in Germany and plans to open operations in China and Serbia to meet world demand for caviar in the midst of dwindling supplies and fishing bans. Miami-Dade County could be a key part of the development.
"We are planning a world headquarters," Mr. Schaefer said. "We moved to Miami Beach from Las Vegas earlier this year."
The relocation preceded a US Fish and Wildlife Service ban on beluga caviar from the Caspian Sea on Sept. 30 and its extension to the Black Sea on Oct. 28. These moves distort the market in the US, which accounts for 60% of the global demand for caviar.
The company plans to farm osetra, beluga and albino sturgeon varieties of caviar at its aquaculture center.
The venture has support from two Miami Beach enterprises that feature or plan to offer the company's caviar.
"The quality is very good," said Reto Gaudenzi, managing director of Casa Casuarina, a private club that operates the Caviar Creator Lounge. "There is definitely the need and the market for this. The region could become a center for caviar creation."
"It's real caviar," said Reinaldo Bibolini, executive manager of the 1250 Club at the Carlyle, the site of another caviar bar that's to open next month. "The fish were dying off in Eastern Europe as a result of pollution and over-fishing. But the same fish may be bred in a tank, and it's the same quality."
Caviar production is a highly efficient operation, Mr. Schaefer said. Aside from the roe, the sturgeon skin is used in the manufacture of soft furnishings such as chair and wall coverings, the swimming bladder yields wood glue for oil paints, the fins are exported to Asia for soup production and other byproducts are used to make cosmetics.
"We will be selling 50 milliliter bottles of oil for the skin that retail at $1,000," Mr. Schaefer said.
Caviar commands $3,500 to $30,000 per kilogram but is lighter in other respects. "It weighs in at a calorie a gram," said Mr. Schaefer, "and it is protein-rich, so it's very healthy. It's a huge seller in Asia, where it is regarded as an aphrodisiac."