One of the most expensive spices in the world is saffron, known as a golden spice. It’s due to the drying stigma of the Crocus sativus plant, which makes it an intensive and laborious process. Many factors, including its cultivation requirements, the harvested method, and the limited availability of this premium spice, are also to be considered in the price of saffron.
Factors affecting the price of saffron
Why saffron is expensive?
The price of saffron depends on many factors. In this article, we are going to talk about 7 of the most important factors affecting the price of saffron. so stay with us until the end.
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1- Saffron cultivation
There are special conditions that must be met to grow saffron. The Mediterranean climate needs hot summers and cold winters to grow Crocus sativus. It’s grown in well-drained soil with a pH range from 6 to 8. These specific environmental conditions make it difficult for them to be cultivated in a small number of areas around the world, particularly Iran, Spain, Kashmir India, and Greece. The high price of saffron is due to the lack of appropriate growing areas.
2- Saffron harvesting process
The production of saffron is a remarkably demanding process that requires considerable labor. Each flower is made of just three mild crimson stigmas, which must be harvested by skilled laborers before sunrise when they are in full bloom. In this delicate task, it is vital to be extremely precise and careful not to damage the little threads. Additionally, only a few handfuls of saffron are produced by each flower and this has contributed further to their scarcity; around 150 flowers produce just one gram of dried saffron threads.
3- The process of drying saffron
Drying the stigmas to retain their flavor and aroma is followed by harvesting. This procedure involves carefully loading them into trays or racks in a well-ventilated area outside of direct sunlight for several days or weeks before they become brittle. Their water content is significantly reduced when dried, resulting in an intensifying of the flavor.
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4-large manual labor requirements:
The large manual labor requirements of saffron in both the harvesting and processing phases are another factor that contributes significantly to its higher price of saffron. Skilled workers are needed to pick flowers in the early morning, separating stigmats from each flower by hand without causing harm or contamination. Its cost increases significantly as a result of the labor-intensive nature of saffron production.
5- Scarcity in its availability:
The price of saffron is already being driven up by a scarcity in its availability. Saffron cultivation can only be done in specific regions with appropriate climate conditions, as we have already mentioned. In addition, the yields per flower are very low and it is a scarce commodity. Demand for saffron is higher than supply, which leads to a higher market price in line with the economics of supply and demand.
6- The uniqueness of its flavor
The uniqueness of its flavor, aroma, and vivid color also influences the high price of saffron. Because of its distinctive taste and fragrance, it is considered by many to be one of the world’s finest luxury spices. The Saffron adds subtle floral and earthy essence to the food, giving it a bright gold color. It is highly desired by chefs and food lovers around the world, as it can be used in sweet and savory recipes.
7- Health benefits of saffron
For its potential health benefits saffron has been used in traditional medicinal products for centuries. Several bioactive substances in this product possess antioxidant properties, such as crocin, crocetin, and safranal, which could be beneficial for mood, memory, eye health, or overall well-being. The demand for saffron as a premium ingredient is driven by this perception of health benefits.
Several factors, such as limited cultivation areas, labor-intensive picking methods, low yield per flower, intense manual labor requirements at processing stages, restricted availability due to supply dynamics, specific flavor profiles, and aroma characteristics sought after worldwide by chefs for health reasons may contribute to the high cost of saffron. The combination of all these elements makes saffron a unique spice that is very expensive on the global market.