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Gordon expects that the center will end up producing 9,000 to 10,000 pounds of caviar, down about one-third from its usual output. This is opening up room for other producers like Rost and the Kahrs brothers. Kahrs said prices have already gone up a little.
“But we’re still not where I want us to be,” Steve Kahrs said.
“In general, things are looking up,” Rost said. “Naturally, when you have Oklahoma cutting their production in half, things will be looking up.”
The Kahrses have a vision for what might finally allow them to sell the thousands of pounds of eggs sitting in their fish: the Russian palate.
Steve said he has a buyer interested in moving thousands of pounds of paddlefish caviar into Russia, and Osage Catfisheries has enough eggs to make that happen. However, shipping to Russia already creates another maze of government regulations that Steve and his brother are begrudgingly trying to navigate. And the situation in Ukraine hasn’t helped, Steve said.
“There was already friction,” he said, “but now this is making it worse.”
They tried to send a test shipment to St. Petersburg recently. It made it across the Atlantic, overnighted in Stockholm, but was immediately confiscated by customs agents once landing in Russia. To date, they don’t know what happened to it, but they expect it has disappeared into the black market.
“The Russian market is where we need to be,” Steve said. “But it’s a hell of a time to be getting into the Russian market.”