Why does Saffron Cost So Much

Why does Saffron Cost So Much

Saffron harvesting involves strenuous physical labor to move the blossoms from the field to the finished packing. Its labor-intensive gathering method, unique flavor, aroma, and color make it the most costly spice on the planet. It is used as a skin and clothing dye in kitchens all over the world and could soon be used more frequently for therapeutic purposes. Saffron was used as perfume by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and it is listed in a Chinese materia medica from the 1550s. The herb is now being used as a textile dye and a spice in cookery. It is now a crucial component of many Eastern, Middle Eastern, and European dishes, including Moroccan tagines, Spanish paella, French bouillabaisse, and many others. However, saffron is an extremely pricey spice. Its harvesting is what causes it to be expensive. Each saffron flower is only used in limited quantities, and all harvesting must be done by hand.

Saffron is presently primarily grown in Spain, France, and Italy, but it is thought that it originated in the Mediterranean, Asia Minor, and Iran. Saffron, the spice that comes to mind when we hear the word, is just a small portion of the plant. Purple flowers are the color of saffron (Crocus sativus). The stigma (plural stigmata), the pollen-germinating portion at the end of the red pistil, the female sex organ of the plant, is what we employ for that particular yellow hue, sweet-herb scent, and bitter taste.

Only three stigmata are present in each saffron flower. The stigmata are dried to maintain their color and flavor after being cut from the plant (together with their crimson pistils). One pound of saffron spice requires 75,000 saffron flowers because only a little portion of the blossom is used. Due to the limited amount of saffron spice produced per plant and the labor-intensive manual harvesting process, saffron is very expensive.

Today, Iran, India (the country that gave rise to chai tea), Spain, and Greece are where the majority of saffron is farmed. About 90% of the 300 tons of saffron harvested annually are cultivated in Iran. However, the finest and most expensive saffron in the world is produced in the Indian state of Kashmir. Over $1,500 can be paid for a pound of it. Much though Kashmiri saffron is already pricey, climate change will probably cause its price to rise even further in the future.

Saffron farming in Kashmir has become problematic because of high temperatures, droughts, and protracted periods of excessive heat, forcing farmers to sell off substantial portions of their land to property developers. In Kashmir, saffron production dropped by approximately 70% between 2017 and 2018. But thanks to the National Saffron Mission, which was established by the Indian government to support the faltering saffron sector, it has slightly recovered in the years since. Why then is saffron so pricey? In sum, growing and producing is difficult, and climate change is simply making it more so. Climate change will make everything more expensive in the future.