Caspian Tradition is an “example” of what can be done.
The Mayor of Waterloo has paid tribute to the “spirit of entrepreneurship” in Belgium.
This, says Florence Reuter, has managed to flourish despite numerous major challenges in recent years, including the health pandemic, multiple wars and the still ongoing economic crisis.
Reuter, who, as a former journalist and TV anchor is well known in Belgium, told this website: “I am proud that such a culture exits right here on our doorstep and we see evidence of that today.”
She was speaking at an end-of-year event to mark what she called the “impressive” achievements of a Belgium-based enterprise that specialises in caviar.
La Maison du Caviar by Caspian Tradition is located on an industrial estate on the outskirts of the town, arguably best known for the Battle of Waterloo. On 9th November it opened its doors to reporters and invited guests to show how it works and give an insight into the secret of its success.
Also present at the event were Mansour Bahrami, the internationally renowned Iranian tennis player and author of the book “Le Court des miracles” and Daniel Meyers, initiator of “Hope & Spirit”, the foundation which helps young students to practice their favourite sport.
Caspian Tradition, which has existed in Belgium for over 30 years, exports most of its packaged caviar – some 80 per cent – to other countries around the world but Belgium accounts for the remainder and remains a valued market.
One sign of its success is that its production of caviar rose from 22 tonnes in 2023 to an expected 26 tonnes this year. The company has a turnover of about €20million and employs 22 staff at its base in Waterloo and a shop in Brussels.
Speaking to this site, the co-owner Arya Razavi explained some of the challenges they have faced in recent times, including the impact of Brexit on trade.
“It has not been easy, for sure, but that goes for lots of businesses of course,” she said. “One problem has been trying to deal with the mountain of red tape that now exists after the UK left the EU. This has become a major problem.Even so, we are still doing well and now looking forward to one of our busiest times of the year (Christmas).”
Mme Reuter, who gave a keynote speech at the event, said the company was a “shining example” of product “quality and artisanship”.
“The owners took the initiative to set up this enterprise here some years ago and it has proved a big success. It shows what can be achieved with hard work and a spirit of entrepreneurship.”
“I am proud that such an enterprise exists in this area.”
She also highlighted a support programme for artisans in the area, launched earlier this year.
The objective is to highlight the know-how of such workers who are active in the area and also encourage them to obtain a “Certified Craftsmanship” label.
Caspian Tradition itself has won a hard-earned reputation for the quality of its products.
This has come despite growing competition in what is a niche market.
Since 2009, following the final decision of the CITES organization to ban wild fishing for export, sturgeon farming has become global and has grown enormously.
It was explained that, after being scrupulously selected and prepared by Caspian Tradition, the caviar is tested and packaged by experts at its Waterloo workshop in order to guarantee what the owners call “impeccable and unparalleled” quality.
Thought to be unique in Belgium, the 1,000 square metre “laboratory”, updated in 2012, represents “the best” in terms of hygiene and performance.
Its multiple double-door fridges, work rooms and cold rooms are kept at less than three degrees to comply with strict EU rules.
The workshop is also equipped with all the tools necessary ensure product traceability, a key priority for its owners.
For those thinking of splashing out on caviar this Christmas here are some tips.
First, remember that caviar is a delicate and fragile product that can only withstand a very short break in the cold chain and it’s therefore important to consume it as soon as possible once its packaging has been opened.
A little trick to check that the caviar has been well preserved: the nose test. Crush a few grains on the back of the hand at the base of the thumb and bring these to the nose. The caviar treated in this way must have no smell.
Avoid as much as possible spoons or other metal utensils and certainly eliminate silver, which gives an oxidized flavour in contact with the caviar. Favour small horn spoons, or even better, mother-of-pearl, which provide optimal tasting.
Regardless of conservation requirements, always serve the caviar very fresh, for example by placing the box on a bed of crushed ice. If you want to stage it in a hot preparation, think about “isolating” it.