The luxury caviar is for the tsars and kings, like the adage goes. Wonder how to sell such an exotic delicacy in the Cambodian market, where hawkers’ food and Khmer traditional cuisines are hot on the people’s main menu?
It is unimaginable. But, not for Frenchman Bernard Matter who is doing exactly that business in Cambodia, selling high quality expensive caviar to a selected elite customers for the last one year.
“Caviar is the most expensive food. Only one percent of the Cambodian population of about 16 million eat caviar.
“The demand is coming from very rich Cambodians who can afford,” Matter, the Chief Executive Officer of Caviar and Traditions, told The Post last Tuesday.
He sells the Comptoir du Caviar brand imported from France to his close circle of clientele, and Matter’s exclusive customers’ identities are kept as a tight secret.
Perhaps, the price of the caviar, which is dubbed as the “black pearl” explains the secrecy surrounding caviar buyers in the Kingdom.
The caviar Matter sells, mostly farmed in the Caspian Sea and Black Sea, are priced nothing less than $1,400 per kg to $7,800 per kg ‑ believe it not!
“Our caviar is from original sturgeon and not hybrid, and all our products are farmed. Eventually it has to be farming, a sustainable source of caviar. We don’t want to empty the seas ...,” he said.
To protect the dwindling stock of the female sturgeon due to over fishing as result of rising demand, strict international rules have been imposed to curb fishing of sturgeons in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea.
His products are not available on local supermarket shelves or retail outlets but sold directly to customers, packed and delivered in fashionable way by well-trained staff.
“It is a niche market, very small market because it is very expensive. We only sell about 10 to 15 kg per month."
“About 10 percent of our customers are hotels and restaurants, and the rest are private sales,” said Matter, who once owned a boutique hotel in Phnom Penh.
Well, what is this mystic caviar after all, which has mesmerised the rich and famous for decades?
Traditionally, the term caviar refers only to roe from wild sturgeon in the Caspian Sea and Black Sea (Beluga, Ossetra and Sevruga caviars).
Operating from his posh residence in Phnom Penh, Matter’s company imports a range of caviar – Caviar Beluga, which originates from Iran and Bulgaria, the Caviar Oscietre and Caviar Bearrii from Poland.
“Caviar is really a good delicacy, it is very rare so it is very expensive. It is tasty and good for health, it contains Omega 3 and Omega 6, minerals and Oligo elements ,” he said.
Now, Matter plans to expand his business and eyeing to open a storage facility in Singapore.
“The main storage facility will be in operation in the third quarter of 2019. From there we can supply to countries like Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam,” he said.