Why Is Saffron So Expensive? See The Real Facts! | ItsFoodtastic (2023)

Saffron is a unique spice that combines many beneficial properties. Regular consumption of saffron cleanses the liver, and blood, soothes skin, and improves mood and overall health. Saffron is a unique herbal remedy and the most expensive spice in the world. But why is saffron so expensive? What is so special about it?

Why is saffron so expensive? Saffron is so expensive because it is costly and time-consuming to harvest. It takes 7 years and 1.5 million flowers to get 10 kg of saffron as theyonly bloom for 7-10 years per year. Saffron can be collected and processed only by hand, so expensive labor also contributes to its high price.

How much does 1 gram of saffron cost? 1 g of finest saffron costs $11.00, but the average high-quality saffron price ranges from $7.30 to $8.50. Saffron that costs less than $6.50 per gram is just a low-quality or fake saffron made ofcorn silk threads, safflower, coconut filaments, dyed horsehair, or even shredded paper.

See also:What Does Saffron Taste Like? Learn The Truth

Why Is Saffron So Expensive? See The Real Facts!

Here are the 7 main reasons why saffron is so expensive:

(Video) Why Real Saffron Is So Expensive | So Expensive

  1. Rarity. Saffron flower blooms only for 7-10 days a year
  2. Expensive labor. All harvesting is done by hand, which requires a lot of time and effort
  3. Difficult cultivation and harvesting. Saffron is a delicate flower that requires a lot of care
  4. Weather. Saffron is very sensitive to weather changes
  5. Scarcity. To get 1 pound of saffron threads, you need to collect 75,000 flowers
  6. High demand. Since only 300 tones of saffron are produced annually, the demand exceeds the supply
  7. Value. Saffron has a lot of health benefits and a long history of use.

A lot of people think that saffron is not only the most expensive spice and food in the world, but that it is also more expensive than gold. But issaffron really worth more than gold? Saffron is not worth more than gold since 1 kg of finest saffron can cost you up to $11,000, while 1 kg of gold costs $55,000-$57,000 (1 g of saffron costs $11, and 1 g of gold costs $55-$57). However, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world and is often dubbed as “red gold”.

Now that you know the main reasons why saffron is so expensive, let’s dive into the details and learn what is so special about it.

What’s so special about saffron? At a price of up to $11,000 per kg, saffron is by far the most expensive food in the world. It has asweet, honey-like, floral flavor with hints of bitterness and spiciness, a mild grassy, earthy, sweet aroma similar to vanilla. To get 10 kg of saffron, you need 1.5 million flowers and 10 years.

See also:Cooking With Saffron – What You Need To Know

According to legends, Alexander the Great used saffron to heal wounds received in battle. Cleopatra used saffron tincture as an elixir of youth and beauty. The dried saffron was also used as a fabric dye. Clothes made of it were considered very expensive, and only the upper strata of society of the times of Antiquity and the Middle Ages could afford them.

(Video) Why Saffron Is The World's Most Expensive Spice

Nowadays, saffron is actively used in pharmacology, perfumery, and cooking. Saffron has anticarcinogenic properties and is used to treat cancer and brain diseases. Also, a saffron tincture is used in the production of eye drops.Saffron extract is included in many elite perfumes as it gives the perfume woody and bittersweet notes.

Saffron consumption produces the “happiness hormone” – serotonin. Saffron is rich in phosphorus, calcium, carotene, and riboflavin. In cooking, saffron is used for coloring sweets, sausages, and cheeses. In the Middle East and South Asia, saffron is added to pilaf, broths, and lamb dishes. At the same time, if you use saffron, you should not add any other seasoning as saffron is too strong and will fade the taste and aroma of other herbs and spices.

Why Is Saffron So Expensive? Main Reasons Explained

Intensive Labor

One of the reasons for the high cost of saffron is its labor-intensive production. Unlike other plants, the purple crocus from which the spice is extracted does not grow by itself. Economists claim that to plant a territory of 1 hectare with purple crocus, you will need to invest $28,000.Saffron has been known for at least 3000 years. It originated in Iraq but was later grown in Italy, Spain, India, and Iran, too.

Today, most of the saffron crop comes from Iran, one-tenth is produced in Kashmir, and the rest comes from Greece, Italy, and even Afghanistan. A small portion of the saffron crop also comes from New Zealand, Argentina, and Switzerland. It takes 7 years to get 10 kg of saffron. For thousands of years, saffron has been used in cooking combined with three ingredients: milk, fish, and rice. It is added to risotto, Marseillaise fish soup, and the best sweets of India.

See also:What Does Paprika Taste Like? Paprika Taste In-Depth Guide

(Video) Why Fake Saffron Trafficking Is Destroying The 'Red Gold' Industry | Big Business

Growing Conditions

The most favorable conditions for growing purple crocus arethe soil that does not accumulate moisture, abundant rainfall during the germination period, and their complete absence during blooming. Iran is a perfect location for growing saffron, that is why it is accountable for about half of the world’s saffron production. 1/10 saffron is produced in the disputed province of Kashmir between India and Pakistan. The rest comes from Greece, Spain, Afghanistan, and Italy. The most expensive saffron comes from Spain, and the cheapest comes from Iran.


Saffron blooms only 2 times a year, and the blooming duration of each flower does not exceed 3 days. You need to have time to collect the stamens at dawn on the first day of flowering and quickly dry them to get high-quality saffron. To obtain 500 g of saffron threads, it is necessary to process about 75 thousand saffron flowers. In Kashmir, for example, during the flowering season of the purple crocus, the entire village population comes out onto the fields.

During harvesting, the locals can make enough money to live comfortably throughout the year, however, most saffron pickers are women, earning a maximum of $5 per day. For some, saffron cultivation and harvesting are the only jobs available.

See also:8 Best Saffron Substitutes That Will Go Well With Any Dish


Kashmiri saffron is the most fragrant spice in the world. 90% of the world’s saffron is produced in Iran, but the threads of the Kashmiri saffron are thicker and more aromatic, which significantly increases its value. Kashmiri saffron is very difficult to cultivate. 30 years ago, saffron harvests were so massive that it took farmers up to six to seven months to harvest and pack the valuable flowers.

(Video) Why Is Saffron So Expensive? | 8 Reasons | So Expensive.

However, in the 1990s, the armed conflict between India and Pakistan escalated in Kashmir. Then the area was hit by a drought and even later by floods. Today the harvests are so poor that farmers leave in search of a better life. And those who stayed pray that the situation will improve, while they themselves can afford saffron only on holidays.

Due to the difficulty of saffron cultivation and harvesting, there is a lot of low-quality and fake saffron. So, how to tell if saffron is real? To tell if saffron is real, put one saffron thread in water. Real saffron will not change its color and remain dark orange, while fake or low-quality one will turn white. You can also taste it – real saffron has a sweet smell, but the taste is slightly bitter.

That said, harvesting saffron requires a lot of manual labor to transport flowers from the field to processing and final packaging. The harvesting process, as well as its distinct taste, smell, and color make saffron the most expensive spice in the world. It is used in kitchens around the world as a fabric and leather dye and may soon find wider medicinal uses.

Why Is Saffron So Expensive? Saffron Price FAQ

Is saffron the most expensive spice? How much is a pound of saffron worth? Saffron is by far the most expensive spice and food in the world. One pound of saffron is worth anywhere between $6,000 to $9,000, but the saffron price per pound can go up to $11,000 if the harvest was poor.

How much should I pay for saffron? Expect to pay between $6.70-$8.90 for 1 g of high-quality saffron. Saffron price can go up to $11,000 per kg or $110 per 1 g. Anything cheaper than $6 per 1 g is either low-quality or fake saffron made of corn silk threads, safflower, coconut filaments, dyed horsehair, or shredded paper.

(Video) Why Mānuka Honey Is So Expensive | So Expensive

What is so special about saffron? Saffon is special as it combinesessential and fatty oils that give it a unique aroma, taste, and coloring properties. It acts as an analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and bactericidal agent. Saffron calms the nervous system, cleanses the blood, and promotes tissue rejuvenation.

What is saffron most commonly used for? Saffran is most commonly used as a seasoning for risotto, vegetable stews, soups, some sauces, and salads. It can also be added to meat(pork, beef, veal), and seafood dishes (bouillabaisse, paella), pies, bread, cold and hot drinks (lemonades, tea, coffee). Saffron is also used in perfumes, food colorings, and fragrances.


How do I know if my saffron is real? ›

Once you've purchased saffron, there is a simple experiment you can perform to test your saffron's quality: Take a few saffron threads and soak them in hot (not boiling) water for 5 to 20 minutes. Fake saffron will quickly bleed out its artificial red dye and the threads will disintegrate.

Where does saffron come from and why is it so expensive? ›

Harvesting saffron is extremely laborious, hence its high cost. Saffron comes from the Crocus sativus plant, which produces two flowers, each one with three stigmas (saffron threads). The delicate flowers are harvested by hand in the fall and must be picked in a matter of hours each morning before they wilt.

What is so special about saffron? ›

Saffron is a powerful spice high in antioxidants. It has been linked to health benefits, such as improved mood, libido, and sexual function, as well as reduced PMS symptoms and enhanced weight loss. Best of all, it's generally safe for most people and easy to add to your diet.

Is saffron the most expensive thing in the world? ›

By far, the most valuable spice in the world today is saffron. The dried stigmas of the saffron crocus plant can be purchased as saffron threads. A kilo of saffron costs, depending on the quality, 3,000-14,000 Euros. The Saffron crocus is a member of the Iridaceae family.

Is McCormick saffron real saffron? ›

Saffron is prized for its golden yellow color, rich flavor and aroma. McCormick sources saffron from Spain for its superior quality – there are more than 250 hand-picked strands per bottle!

Does real saffron float or sink? ›

5. Float Test : Another test of real Saffron is the Float Test that real saffron threads do not drown when put in water. They would rather float. Fake Saffron threads would partially or completely submerge in water because of the heaviness of the colored dye or the floral wastage on them.

Can you grow saffron in the US? ›

Saffron is also grown in the United States, most notably in Pennsylvania. Culinarily, saffron is prized for both its aromatic flavor and beautiful golden color. The saffron spice is a common ingredient in Spanish dishes like seafood paella.

What is poor man's saffron? ›

The marigold aka the poor man's saffron. They can be used as a substitute for saffron due to its hue and flavor. The flowers can be used as a garnish, but they are also great in salads as they have a citrus flavor with a hint of tang and spice.

Is saffron worth more than gold? ›

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Produced from the stigma of the autumn flowering purple crocus (Crocus sativus), it has at points in history been worth three times the price of gold.

What does saffron do to the brain? ›

Preclinical studies proved that saffron exerts its neuroprotective effects mostly via antioxidative stress, anti-neuroinflammation, anti-apoptosis and certain other related pathways. Clinical trials also confirmed that saffron could alleviate depressive and anxiety-like symptoms in both depression and anxiety patients.

What can saffron cure? ›

It's one of the world's most expensive spices. People commonly use saffron for depression, anxiety, Alzheimer disease, menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

Who uses saffron the most? ›

Hailing from the Middle East, saffron is still most commonly used in Mediterranean, Asian, and European cuisine. However, this worldly spice can also be found in a range of dishes around the globe, from Spanish paella and other Greek and Italian rice dishes to rich Indian recipes and Swedish saffron buns.

How much is 1g of saffron worth? ›

Our saffron cost $59.95 – 28.35 gr = (Ounce) = $ 2.11 per gram. Cost by unit of color 0.22 cents. Sample 1.

How much is 1g of saffron? ›

One gram of saffron threads equals roughly one loosely packed tablespoon. You only need a pinch of saffron threads (a heaping 1/4 teaspoon) for a paella that serves four. An essential in paella, saffron infuses the rice with a lovely aroma and flavor along with its soft amber glow.

Can I grow my own saffron? ›

Saffron can absolutely be grown for your own personal use. In fact, it's actually pretty easy to do. That being the case, you might be wondering why it is the most expensive spice in the world. Plant cultivation isn't actually the culprit of the high pricing, it's actually primarily due to the process of harvesting.

Why is Trader Joe's saffron so cheap? ›

Less-expensive saffron powder is often made from sub-par saffron or old saffron. We suspect that this saffron from Trader Joe's is somewhere in between – old saffron that's past its prime but still has some kick.

Is American saffron real saffron? ›

Popularly known as American saffron or Mexican saffron, this fake saffron actually being a member of the Daisy family is used to extract safflower oil. Although its dried, edible flowers do impart the characteristic yellow color to foods, it has no flavor and is definitely not a saffron substitute candidate.

Does saffron expire? ›

Saffron does not expire, but it does have a shelf life. Like other spices, it loses its strong aroma and flavour as it ages and doesn't get preserved. This priceless spice gets harmed by direct light, oxygen, dampness, and heat. With only a little exposure, your Saffron will quickly lose its optimum freshness.

What does real saffron smell like? ›

A rule of thumb here: Quality Saffron should smell sweet, but never taste Sweet! The smell of Pure Saffron reminds people of a mixture of honey and hay aroma. Sometimes the Saffron can have a pungent (almost chemical) type of smell, this is due to high levels of Safranal and Picocrocin in the Saffron.

Why do you Soak saffron in water? ›

To draw out the colour and to ensure that it's evenly distributed throughout the dish it's to be added to, steep saffron threads in a little warm water, stock, milk or white wine for about 30 mins before using. Then add the liquid to the dish, usually towards the end of cooking.

How long does pure saffron last? ›

Saffron Storage

Store saffron in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to six months for maximum flavor. Saffron, like other herbs and spices, is sensitive to light, so wrap the packet in foil to protect it further. Saffron will not spoil, but it will lose increasingly more and more of its flavor with age.

What states grow saffron? ›

The United States is the world's largest consumer of saffron but with the exception of a few producers in the states of Vermont, Pennsylvania and Washington, the cultivation of saffron and the crocus Sativus is relatively unknown in the United States.
Total excl. VAT€0,00

Why don't more people grow saffron? ›

Saffron is expensive for two reasons. Not a lot is produced per acre and more importantly, there are no saffron processing machines. Each flower produces only three threads of saffron, which are the red female flower parts that receive pollen (or at least they used to, now the plant is sterile).

How many months does it take to grow saffron? ›

Cultivation of saffron is very easy and simple. Saffron crop does not require much hard work. Also, its harvest period is also 3 - 4 months and it can grow upto 15-20 cm in height.

Why does saffron make you happy? ›

Boosting mood

A study in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science found that a saffron extract increased dopamine levels in the brain without changing the levels of other brain hormones, such as serotonin.

What does saffron even taste like? ›

What does saffron taste like? Saffron has a sweet, floral taste to it. It's earthy and has a complex nuanced flavor. On the other hand, saffron that tastes bitter, metallic, or plastic like are often cheap imitators of this unique spice and should be avoided.

How does saffron taste like? ›

Saffron has a subtle earthy-sweet flavor profile with a tinge of bitterness on the tongue that gives way to delicate floral and honey notes.

How much is 1 oz of saffron worth? ›

Spanish Pure Saffron Large Tin
$48.001oz (28g)

What is the most expensive spice on earth? ›

Most expensive spice

Across the world, saffron is used in products ranging from food to medicine and cosmetics. A kilogram (2.2 pounds) requires the stigmas of about 150,000 flowers and can easily sell for $3,000-$4,000.

Is store bought saffron real? ›

What can be wrong with what you bought? The item labelled saffron can be entirely fake, or it can be real saffron but adulterated with other substances. Fake saffron can be corn silk threads, safflower (an unrelated thistle), coconut filaments or even dyed horse hair, or shredded paper.

How much does real saffron cost? ›

With its gorgeous color and distinct flavor, this ancient spice is worth the price tag. Saffron is often referred to as “red gold,” and for good reason—it's the world's most expensive spice, retailing for anywhere from $10 to $20 for a gram of the real stuff.

How do you choose good quality saffron? ›

There are only three criteria you must look for every time you buy saffron: Saffron threads (Stigmas) are all red (no other color). Saffron threads must be dry and brittle to the touch. Saffron aroma is strong and fresh, never musty.

What should saffron smell like? ›

Saffron has a complex olfactive profile: sweet, honey and hay-like scent that can also have a slightly earthy, rubbery, leathery note to it, which comes from the chemical compounds picrocrocin and safranal.

How much is an ounce of real saffron? ›

Spanish Pure Saffron Large Tin
$48.001oz (28g)

Does real saffron expire? ›

Saffron does not expire, but it does have a shelf life. Like other spices, it loses its strong aroma and flavour as it ages and doesn't get preserved. This priceless spice gets harmed by direct light, oxygen, dampness, and heat. With only a little exposure, your Saffron will quickly lose its optimum freshness.

Is saffron worth more then gold? ›

Saffron (Crocus sativa) is a spice that is worth more than its weight in gold. Over the past three decades there has been renewed global interest in saffron cultivation for use in cosmetics, the food industry and for its health benefits, which is why this spice has been coined “Red Gold”.

What is the shelf life of saffron? ›

Saffron Storage

Store saffron in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to six months for maximum flavor. Saffron, like other herbs and spices, is sensitive to light, so wrap the packet in foil to protect it further. Saffron will not spoil, but it will lose increasingly more and more of its flavor with age.

Which is the best saffron brand in the world? ›

Noor Brand Saffron is one of the most sought-after and expensive spices in the world. It is obtained from the red stigmas of a beautiful lavender colored flower, called Crocus. It is collected, dried and then sold in the form of threads or powdered form.

Why is Spanish saffron so cheap? ›

Large equipment such as tractors and rigs are used for cultivation, which can significantly stack up the production saffron price. In addition, Spanish saffron production happens on very low levels and It is only enough for their domestic use. On the other hand, in Iran, farmers cultivate saffron in small farms.

Should saffron be yellow or red? ›

They should be a deep orange-red. Yellow threads are a part of the stigma that have no flavor. If it's possible before you buy, feel the saffron. If it is sticky, someone may have added sugar to give more weight.

Can you grow saffron? ›

Saffron crocus bulbs are widely available from mail-order bulb and seed companies. Plant them in summer in moist but well-drained soil and water well. To harvest the saffron strands, simply remove using tweezers, and dry them before using them to add delicate colour and flavour to a range of dishes.


1. Why Real Truffles Are So Expensive | So Expensive
(Insider Business)
2. Saffron Is More Expensive Than Gold!
3. why is saffron so very expensive🤑 | #fact jsm
(Fact JSM)
4. Why is saffron so expensive. #shorts #saffron #expensive #saymebeast #why #facts #flowers #costly
(Say me Beast)
5. What Is This The Most Expensive Spice In The World? | The Spice Trail | Absolute History
(Absolute History)
6. Why Sandalwood Is So Expensive | So Expensive
(Insider Business)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Rubie Ullrich

Last Updated: 07/21/2023

Views: 5249

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (52 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Rubie Ullrich

Birthday: 1998-02-02

Address: 743 Stoltenberg Center, Genovevaville, NJ 59925-3119

Phone: +2202978377583

Job: Administration Engineer

Hobby: Surfing, Sailing, Listening to music, Web surfing, Kitesurfing, Geocaching, Backpacking

Introduction: My name is Rubie Ullrich, I am a enthusiastic, perfect, tender, vivacious, talented, famous, delightful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.