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Article From "Svenska Dagbladet" - December 31st 2020

- Now comes the food! They get pellets with a lot of protein and fat. Expensive and good food!

It's feeding time, the food is automatically portioned straight into the basins inside the closed mill in Strömsnäsbruk. Around 800 lively shark-like grey fish now swim around in the temperate water, which is purified by ozone.

It is about Siberian sturgeons, which have been imported from Riga to Småland to be used in something as unusual as Swedish caviar production.

- In the open, they can be two meters long. But the ones we have are big enough, and this is a terribly strong fish, says site manager Ola Brandt as he habitually shows around the old factory premises.

Familiar rooms – this is where his father worked, like many other residents of the Småland community, until the closure in the early 1980s. Paper production is history, now it is exclusive fish roe that applies. The powerful fish produce caviar of the only kind that can be called black caviar -  sturgeon roe.

So far this year, roughly 130 kilos have been gently massaged out of live fish. What distinguishes the Småland caviar production from many others is that the fish will live for around 20 years here because they are not slaughtered in connection with milking the roe, explains Ola Brandt.

- "Milking" is quite new. Most people butcher fish. But we want to have a longer view, so we hope to milk a fish ten times, and they are only milked every two years.

The fish itself is relaxed during the milking itself – a process that only takes a couple of minutes, explains Ola Brandt.

- It shakes for around 20 seconds but then it is quite still.

The next milking will take place in a few weeks, and then it will be total support in the small company Arctic Roe of Scandinavia. The initiator, CEO Torbjörn Ranta, will stand in the kitchen wearing a protective apron and mix salt into the expensive, black roe.

- Absolutely, we are few, so there are no cream pies here, you have to be involved, says Torbjörn Ranta to TT and continues:

- We are not making a profit today, so you have to think about every kroner, like a true citizen from this province. This means that the chairman of the board and CEO of the company stand and - yes, do not massage fish - but we work hard in the food preparation room

Making caviar is manual work, and it is important to learn every step of the process, Ranta underlines.

The result? A small glass or tin jar. The kilo price before VAT is SEK 9,000, which makes the delicacy one of the more expensive ones produced in our country. The price in-store ends up being double.

Aro's goal is to produce a thousand kilos per year.

- That would make us a third of one per cent of the world market. The world market today is 350 tons a year globally, and we would like to take one ton of the global market and it could realistically happen within five years.

According to Ranta, the Swedish demand for caviar makes up about one per cent of the world market, and it is mainly restaurants and hotels that buy it. But private individuals also buy from fish shops and traders in several places in the country. However, those who are hungry for the Småland delicacy for this New Year will have to look.

- We sent the last lot to Stockholm, so it's over, says Ola Brandt and opens the freezer in the kitchen at the plant in Strömsnäsbruk to take out a few of the cans that are left.

An expensive delicacy, which should be eaten simply, he thinks.

- The Russians eat like blinis with red cabbage and creme fraiche. Hey there - if you're going to pay SEK 500 for a small jar, you have to know how it tastes. No red onion. Possibly a splash of lemon to enhance the taste, he says and advises the beginner to have as few accessories as possible.

- Start by tasting it. I think it's great to eat as it is.

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