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Twin Falls-area caviar maker to dive into big pond
By NATALIE DICOU — (TWIN FALLS) TIMES-NEWS
Posted: 12:00am on Feb 20, 2012; Modified: 12:23am on Feb 20, 2012
An ounce of Leo Ray’s caviar retails for about $100
HAGERMAN — Leo Ray, owner of Fish Processors of Idaho, recently received a U.S. Department of Agriculture Value-added Producer Grant, designed to help farmers advertise new products and build economies in rural communities.
“We’ll see if we can’t build a national market for Idaho caviar,” a thrilled Ray said last week.
Ray, 74, has raised fish such as rainbow trout, catfish and tilapia for about 40 years on farms in the Magic Valley. About six years ago, he began harvesting white sturgeon caviar, which is considered a “value-added” product because it brings in revenue on top of mere fish-meat sales.
The caviar side of Ray’s business has been a long time coming. To produce eggs, sturgeon must be 10 to 15 years old.
For six years, Ray has produced caviar in relatively small quantities — about 300 pounds annually. Now a much larger batch of sturgeon is at last old enough to produce the expensive, glistening, black beads. During the next one to three years, Ray plans to multiply his caviar production tenfold, to as much as 3,000 pounds annually.