Russian entrepreneur Igor Stopnikov is behind a plan to produce caviar in Wellington worth up to £22m a year at retail prices, making it by far the town’s biggest business.
Caviar is one of the world’s most expensive foods, costing around £85 for a 30g tin of the tiny black sturgeon eggs.
Stopnikov’s company has applied for planning permission to build a “caviar factory” at the small industrial estate. In five years time it will employ 13 people and produce around eight tons of Osietra Caviar each year.
In addition the plant will produce around 35 tons annually of what are described as sturgeon fish products. Their value could take the annual revenues of the fish farm close to £30m, dwarfing even long-established business such as Relyon or Swallowfield.
“This can only be good for Wellington – adding another and quite different company to the extensive list of food sector businesses in the area, and offering employment opportunities to local people. We trust that the planning authorities will grant this application,” commented Ian Stock, chairman of the Wellington Business Association.
Bizarrely this part of the South West appears to be en route to becoming the caviar capital of the UK. Only two months ago the Exmoor Caviar Company, currently the UK’s only producer, harvested its first sturgeon eggs at a fish farm on the River Mole in the Exmoor National Park.