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Renowned French caviar house Petrossian opens UK lab to combat Brexit red tape

05/11/2021 – Food / Caviar / Gourmet / Petrossian / UK / Brexit

Renowned French caviar house Petrossian opens UK lab to combat Brexit red tape

Petrossian has been a French institution for over a century, and has been sourcing and maturing the world's finest caviar since the firm first brought this delicacy to Paris in 1920. This year, the family-run company is expanding its UK caviar operations, and is currently building a new caviar lab on the outskirts of London – in Chessington.


The UK subsidiary of the brand launched seven years ago and has introduced Petrossian products to some of the country’s best restaurants and luxury hotels, going on to launch a UK online store in 2020, which offers nationwide consumer access to the full range of Petrossian specialities, with guaranteed 24-hour delivery. 


Petrossian UK is currently a distributor of Petrossian pre-packed products from France. Since Brexit, the new regulations and heavy processes on food imports have encouraged the brand to develop their own caviar laboratory in the UK, in order to be more autonomous and flexible to customer demand. The UK lab is set to be fully operational in November 2021.

Brexit-related bottlenecks

Certainly, the company has experienced plenty of Brexit-related bottlenecks to its operations to date, as Raphaelle Simmons, Petrossian’s UK Managing Director, explains: “Until now, we’ve had to forecast what products we may need six weeks ahead; head office in Paris then has to apply for export permits for specific batch numbers in precise quantities. They send us the export permits, and then we have to request import permits – which can take up to five weeks,” he laments. “Then it takes up to a week to pack, ship over, and get through border control. If we’re a single tin over or under what is specified on the permit, it blocks everything. 

“It’s very process-heavy, resulting in less shelf-life on disposable stock, which is inconvenient to our clients,” he remarks. “Having to forecast requirements so far in advance meant that we always ended up with either shortages or wastage.”

Petrossian’s new UK ‘Caviarologist’


Petrossian has recruited a new Caviarologist, who will take charge of the whole caviar production in the UK – from receipt of the raw ingredients, to maturation control, preparation, conditioning, traceability, H&S, stock control – as well as acting as a technical expert and Petrossian ambassador with visiting chefs.  


Once the new lab is operational, Petrossian will import the 1.8kg mother tins of caviar. The mother tins will be refrigerated in a maturing chamber, turned regularly, and tapped with a hammer to make sure no air bubbles can affect the caviar. Regular tasting ensures the balance of salt and caviar is correct. The process of maturing caviar can take anywhere from 4–12 months. 


“This will allow us to tin on demand, in the sizes requested by chefs and clients,” commented Mr Simmons. “We will import less often, in bigger volumes, saving a lot of time and paperwork. The products in the UK will have a longer shelf-life, as they won’t be subject to the six-week import process. We will also be able to offer greater availability, with all species available in all sizes of tin. 

“We can even selectively mature the caviar to the levels requested by chefs, to suit their requirements,” he added in closing. “Giving the chefs the opportunity to speak directly to the Caviarologist will help further develop the close, personalised relationships with chefs that we at Petrossian pride ourselves on.”

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