Can you give us a brief overview and history of CROE Caviar? How, when and why was it founded?
It is a project of passion. I grew up enjoying caviar at my family home on the Caspian Sea; it was always around, with a positive association of time spent with family – happy memories. Around 6 years ago, I had the idea to create a caviar brand to showcase the Beluga I knew from Iran. It was discussed between the founders for several years between other projects. Finally, during the lockdown, it seemed the perfect moment as there was some real time to allocate to the project for the first time. We then built a team of specialists and started actualising the brand. This process took around 6 months, and then in September 2021, we launched CROE Caviar.
What are the core philosophies of the brand, and what is its mission? How is this put forward in the business and its products?
The brand’s core philosophy is to make caviar a product not to be afraid of; we want to challenge the norm and encourage people to interact with caviar however they like. Not to be afraid to experiment. We have consciously partnered with chefs to show how people can cook with the product across many cuisines. We want to keep the quality extremely high, the pricing fair and the message simple.
How did you get into this business, and what is your most rewarding part?
Caviar has always been part of my life; the most rewarding part is seeing my dream come to life through the team’s talents around me. Having my vision and creative dream taken to market is very special, and the response from people has been phenomenally overwhelming – we could not have dreamed of a better outcome. What is unique is that we developed the product primarily for direct-to-consumer retail, so we placed a lot of emphasis on the customer experience at every stage. We wanted to surprise and delight with this aspect, and I think we do.
What are some of the difficulties you face in this industry, and how do you overcome them?
The main difficulty is a perception of the product being inaccessible. People are afraid of the product and, in many instances, have preconceived ideas of what it will taste like. We just encourage people to try before deciding. Additionally, there are obviously big players in the market who control the market share on trade. We never seek to compete with these players – largely driven by pricing, we strive to create experiences. This has indirectly, by default, helped us overcome what would have been our greatest difficulty.
Can you give details on the products and how they are sourced and prepared?
Our sturgeon hatcheries are located in the Mazandaran and Gilan provinces of Iran, and every step of the process happens on-site, right up to packaging the final product. This way, we have the tightest grip on quality control, serving caviar that uniquely only goes through one packaging process and is some of the freshest available to consumers.
The healthiest fish create the best-quality roe. So, CROE sturgeon are kept in an optimal environment, with hygiene, health, thermoregulation and oxygenation tightly monitored, with all-natural fish-based food supplied.
Sustainability is also a key consideration for CROE, so we have installed solar panels at the hatcheries. You can learn more about this mission here.
Can you share more about your sustainable farming practices?
CROE is the next generation of caviar – an exceptional product that embraces its heritage while looking to the future. Although produced in the traditional homeland of caviar, it is done as sustainably as possible to protect and celebrate its future every step of the way.
From the first stage of the production process, sustainability takes a vital role by using solar panels and renewable energy at our hatcheries. This means the sturgeon are kept in a temperature-controlled environment for their welfare, but purely through sustainable methods to reduce our carbon emissions.
All CROE packaging has been thoughtfully designed to be fully reusable or recyclable. For example, all deliveries to the wider UK outside of London are sent in bespoke WoolCool bags, incorporating wool for its superior insulating properties whilst also being fully compostable and biodegradable. Available in abundance as a by-product of sheep rearing, this wool ensures CROE can deliver your product to you perfectly chilled without compromising on sustainability or performance. All other packaging, including our tins, ice packs and thermic bags, are also reusable or recyclable.
CROE partners with various charities, including working closely with the UK environmental charity Earthly in order to actively fight climate change and deforestation, with the end goal to become a climate-positive company. With every 10g of caviar bought from CROE, one Mangrove tree will automatically be planted. Earthly has already planted over 300 million Mangroves, creating 3 million days of work for the local community, and CROE is looking to help them hit their target of 500 million trees by 2025. We’ve chosen to plant Mangroves specifically as they sequester carbon at a rate of 2-4 times greater than mature tropical forests while also increasing biodiversity and sediment reduction on the coast. Subscribe to our newsletter on our website to hear more about our sustainable efforts, and if you wish to donate more trees to the cause, you can do so at the checkout when purchasing our products online.
What are some of the key elements that set your caviar apart from others?
The taste, it is unique. This is directly linked to the sourcing, quality control and the fact the product is never repacked nor frozen. The difference that this makes to the end-product experience is vast.
Tell us about some of your partnerships and their significance?
Chef Tom Fraser – Head Chef of Scotts Mayfair: we aligned with Chef Tom to craft our launch recipes and gifting strategy. Ultimately one of the best seafood chefs in Europe, Tom is creative and dynamic with a special skill in translating his craft into accessible user-friendly recipes. We are so excited to have such a phenomenal culinary mind associated with our brand in its infancy. It was an honour for us to have his seal of approval.
Guillem Kerambrun – Global Beverage Specialist and Wine Director of Alain Ducasse for over 15 years: our partnership with Guillem has allowed us to explore so many pairings outside of the norm, over and above the obvious ones. This ensures we continue to surprise our audiences with new experiences and aligns us with the best beverage brands in the world.
Kate De’Ath – former Global Brand Marketing Director for Ralph Lauren then Dogus Group: Kate’s obsession with an elevated customer experience and positioning has ensured that we treat CROE just like any other luxury brand. The engagement marketing and experience thus remain best-in-class and they are never diluted for the short term wins, which is often the case in start-ups.
We have a new upcoming partnership with an exclusive new member’s club in Mayfair; this will be the first-of-its-kind caviar concept that once again will align us with the best hospitality minds and experience-centric audience.
What’s your favourite way to enjoy your caviar, and any tips on its best pairings?
My favourite way to enjoy it is directly from the tin with one of our CROE Caviar spoons or how we have it in Iran, with toasted bread, butter and a splash of lemon. As far as pairing is concerned, contrary to popular belief, good caviar can be paired with almost anything – it’s the lesser quality ones where we need to be careful. Also, as a non-drinker, I like to take mine with Copenhagen Sparkling Tea, it’s great!
What’s next for Croe Caviar, any new products or partnerships on the horizon?
We have so many exciting things on the horizon, new markets, new experiential retail concepts and partnerships with new hospitality ventures!