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food / travel

Salmon Roe Woe In Russia Could Spark Caviar Trade War

To satisfy Russian apetites, frozen shipments of the low-end *red caviar* have come in from Alaska. Not all are pleased.

Russia's red caviar industry is worth billions of dollars
Russia's red caviar industry is worth billions of dollars
Cvetlana Mentyokova

MOSCOW — In Russia, caviar is not just a snack for the elite. That would be black caviar, which can cost thousands of dollars per pound, and comes from sturgeon. Salmon roe, also called red caviar, is much cheaper and is a favorite of ordinary Russians, particularly on special occasions — making the production of red caviar a billion dollar industry in Russia.

Last summer the cost of red caviar jumped by 70%, largely because of a bad start to the salmon season in eastern Russia. That price has more or less returned to normal (about $50 per kilo) thanks in part to a large import of frozen red caviar from Alaska. That is good for consumers, but it might be an ominous sign for Russian fisherman and processors, who produce between 11,000 and 13,000 tons of red caviar annually.

Between 40% and 60% of the red caviar in Russia comes from fisheries in the far eastern part of the country, on the Pacific Ocean. When the fishing season there began poorly, prices jumped. Since then, though, “around 15,000 to 16,000 tons of red caviar have been released in the market, enough to satisfy internal demand,” explains Aleksander Savelev, press secretary for the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency. The major caviar processors say that the main reason for the drop in prices is an increase in the amount of frozen red caviar from the United States.

According to Federal Customs Service data, nearly 1,500 tons of frozen caviar had been imported to Russia as of August, worth more than $13 million. At customs, 89% of the caviar was declared at $7 to $9 per kilo, significantly less than the average price in Russia.

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Geopolitics

AMLO Power Grab: Mexico's Electoral Reform Would Make Machiavelli Proud

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aka AMLO, says his plans to reform the electoral system are a way to save taxpayer money. A closer look tells a different story.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico votes

Luis Rubio

OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — For supporters of Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) the goal is clear: to keep power beyond the 2024 general election, at any price. Finally, the engineers of the much-touted Fourth Transformation, ALMO's 2018 campaign promise to do away with the privileged abuses that have plagued Mexican politics for decades, are showing their colors.

Current electoral laws date back to the 1990s, when unending electoral disputes were a constant of every voting round and impeded effective governance in numerous states and districts. The National Electoral Institute (INE) and its predecessor, the IFE, were created to solve once and for all those endemic disputes.

Their promoters hoped Mexico could expect a more honest future, with the electoral question resolved. The 2006 presidential elections, which included AMLO as a recalcitrant loser, showed this was hoping for too much. That election is also, remotely, at the source of the president's new electoral initiative.

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