Italian Caviar maker offers model of integrated economy

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A sturgeon farm in Calvisano, a small city in northern Italy rich in pure spring water, has based its international success on a model of integrated economy which is regarded as an example of sustainability.

Agroittica Lombarda, headquartered near the city of Brescia, is one of the world’s largest caviar producers, with over 25 tonnes per year covering 30 percent of total caviar consumption.

The company provides a model for “integrated economy,” a concept that Mario Pazzaglia, head of special projects and scientific external relations at Agroittica Lombarda, said has been often used in recent times in Italy but has its origins in the 1970s.

“Our model is based on energy recovery,” Pazzaglia told Xinhua. Agroittica Lombarda, he said, was founded in 1976 by entrepreneurs who used to run a steel plant in the area that it still there. This combination, which still surprises many visitors, has been one of the factors for the company’s success.

The company, run over 100 hectares of fish rearing facilities, has an independent artesian water supply to avoid any risk of pollution or contamination. Pazzaglia explained to Xinhua that the farm uses the plant’s energy to heat up rearing facilities, while the plant is refrigerated by the farm’s water, so that both of them save on energy costs.

“In addition, local farmers can also make use of our water, so that they do not need to pump water from subsoil to irrigate fields,” Pazzaglia added.

“We try to respect the environment as much as possible, for example by reproducing in captivity the conditions of life and production that sturgeons have in nature,” he highlighted.

Agroittica Lombarda was the first farm to feature as many as six sturgeon species both for meat and caviar production: white sturgeon, Siberian sturgeon, Russian sturgeon, Adriatic sturgeon, beluga sturgeon and sevruga sturgeon.

The over 300,000 sturgeons at the farm are kept in good health and in a sane environment, and constantly monitored by biologists. On top of a series of certifications, the international organization Friend of the Sea has recognized Agroittica Lombarda’s caviars as sustainable and farmed into an eco-friendly environment.

“Caviar is precious especially because of the length of its production process,” Pazzaglia went on explaining. In fact it takes as many as 12-20 years for a female sturgeon to mature and produce caviar, which equals to a consistent investment, he added.

Pazzaglia explained to Xinhua that Agroittica Lombarda’s caviar production is “malossol,” a Russian word that signifies that has a low salt content due to its freshness and by following a stringent production process to preserve the characteristic aroma and flavor.

Among the export markets of the company, which has subsidiaries in the United States and France, China is an important target. “China is a strong producer of sturgeons, and is a big exporter though a very small consumer of caviar,” Agroittica Lombarda general manager Lelio Mondella told Xinhua.

In his view, most consumers lack the knowledge and experience to evaluate the quality of caviar. “An education work needs to be done in order to bring people close to the taste, culture and especially magic of caviar,” Mondella said defining caviar as “not merely a product, but a ritual of excellence and elegance.”

His suggestion for accompanying caviar with Chinese cuisine was to eat caviar in small bites alone, which will help experience its fresh and delicate taste more completely without becoming overwhelmed by other flavors. Enditem

Source: Marzia De Giuli, Song Jian/Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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