Why is the saffron price high?
The price of saffron is mainly high because of the labor intensive process to harvest the saffron. Each saffron flower (crocus sativus) has three stigmas. The saffron spice are the stigmas of the saffron flower, also referred to as saffron threads. Each individual flower is harvested by hand and then dried. It takes about 70,000 flowers to produce one pound of saffron. The harvest time of the saffron flowers is usually in October and November. It takes a long time to harvest the saffron fields, because each flower is picked by hand and processed by hand as well. The picking and processing of saffron is a very delicate process that cannot be automated. The saffron pickers first pick the flowers in the fields, then they bring them to a processing facility where each flower will be separated from the stigmas. Each saffron flower contains only three stigmas. The individual stigmas will then be dehydrated so it can preserve. The saffron pickers will then package the saffron threads. The whole process of planting, nurturing, picking, processing and packaging saffran is done by hand and requires a lot of labor. The highest cost for saffron producers are the saffron pickers that they have to pay. They usually work seasonally and make enough to sustain themselves throughout the year. Which is why the price of saffron is high.
Low quality vs high quality saffron
An important factor in determining the price of saffron is the quality of saffron. International grades are assigned via the international standards organization, the ISO grade determines the grade of saffron by three factors: color, flavor, and aroma. The secondary metabolites are called crocin, picrocrocin, and safranal and together they determine the quality of the saffron spice. Safranal and crocin are the main bioactives in saffron. Crocin is the chemical compound in the saffron threads that is mainly responsible for the color. The picrocrocin in saffran is responsible for the taste and safranal is what makes the aroma of saffron. Together these bioactives determine the quality of saffron. The saffron threads are graded from I to IV, with I as the best quality and IV the poorest. The scale for crocin is: Grade I: >190, Grade II: >150, Grade III: >110, and Grade IV: <110.
The grades in Spain have different category labels than in Iran, they are called: Coupe: >190, La Mancha: 180-190, Rio: 150-180, Standard: 110-150, and Sierra: <110. The grades from Iran are Negin >270, Sargol 260-270, Pushal 170-250, Bunch 120-150, Konj <100. The saffron in Afghanistan goes by these grades as well.
The various grades of saffron can be distinguished by the following descriptions:
Super negin: This is the most premium quality saffron. The translation is rare super diamond. It does not contain any yellow or orange part of the stem. It is the best type of saffron because of the fullness of the threads in color, flavor and aroma. The super negin has over >270 crocon absorbance.
Negin: This type of saffron is considered premium quality as well, but has a tiny part of the yellow stem on the thread. The only difference between the negin and super negin type of saffron is that the negin will have less saffron concentration.
Sargol: The word sargol means top of the flower in Farsi and consists of red stigma tips only and is often broken threads. The sargol has a crocin concentration of between 260-270.
Pushal: The pushal type of saffron is the cheapest type of saffron and contains a lot of the yellow or orange parts of the stigma. The yellow or orange parts have no color, flavor or aroma.
In general the low quality saffron will have the yellow parts of the stigma and have less color, flavor and scent.
Saffron price per ounce
The price of saffron, which is the most expensive spice in the world, is about $6.79 per gram. Saffron is usually sold by the gram. The price depends on the quality of the saffron. There’s different grades of saffron: konj, poushal, sargol, super negin. The super negin translated to super diamond, which is the highest quality of saffron in the world. Moonflowers saffron is the super negin type. Saffron grows in Afghanistan, Iran, Spain, Greece, India and Kashmir amongst other places. The different regions have their own types and quality of saffron that will determine the price of saffron per ounce. Usually it is recommended to purchase saffron by the gram rather than per ounce.
How much is the saffron price?
The current saffron price is $6.79 per gram. At Moonflowers we offer our saffron for $6.49 per gram for the super negin type of saffron from Afghanistan. What makes our saffron special is that it’s hand-harvested by women in Afghanistan. The price of saffron may vary depending on quality, sourcing, and availability. It is also possible that sometimes due to circumstances the saffron farmers harvest less saffron. This will bring up the price of saffron as well. The yearly global production of saffron is about 300 tons. Iran has the highest production in the world, Iran produces about 88% of the world’s saffron.
Saffron Price: Per Ounce or Per Gram?
Saffron is usually sold by the gram. When you buy saffron from a wholesaler you will buy it per kilo. This price is not marked up and varies per region and type of saffron. In the US saffron is usually sold per 1 gram, Saffron 2 gram, saffron 5 gram and saffron 10 gram.