What is the Real Price of Saffron in 2019?

Saffron farm

 

Saffron Price in 2019

We’ve heard it all before: saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. But what does that actually mean? How expensive is expensive? Ah, there’s the rub.

Saffron is like any ultra-premium product—there is no “one size fits all” pricing. And nowadays, the market is absolutely full of vendors, selling products that vary wildly in terms of origin, potency and quality. That means that getting an accurate sense of what counts as a fair saffron price in 2019 is going to be more challenging than ever.

 

Not all created equal

The first thing to realize about saffron is that it’s not all created equal. That’s why it doesn’t make much sense to ask “how much should saffron cost”—because it’s a little like asking “how much should wine cost”. Are we talking about store brand table wine or the stuff that’s sold at auction?

The wholesale price of saffron ranges from around $1000 to $5000 per kilogram—obviously a huge difference. But there’s a good reason for this: because at the top end of the grading system, premium saffron is basically a different product altogether.

Without getting too deep into the specifics, you should be looking for saffron that is produced only from the very tips of the stigmas of the saffron crocus—the purest, most potent part of the flower. The “super negin” grade is really just a marketing fab, one of the lower grades of saffron you should even consider buying because it has a large portion of the yellow part of saffron stigma or thread, but for the absolute best results, you’re really going to want to go to the top of the stigma/ thread: All Red or “sargol” saffron. Ideally, you’ll want Persian/ Iranian saffron, which is considered by experts to be the best in the world from the motherland of Saffron.

Yes, it will cost more—and even with more production than ever, demand is also sky-high, which means the saffron price in 2019 hasn’t gone down any.

But in the end, it’s going to be worth the extra money, both in terms of quality as well as financially.

 

The real cost of saffron

The nice thing about saffron is that even though it’s extremely expensive when considered by weight when you think about it in terms of cost per serving, it is actually quite affordable.

If you’re using saffron to cook, for example, the quantities required to colour, flavour, and perfume most recipes are generally fairly modest: 10-20 threads of saffron per dish. That means that “the most expensive spice in the world” only winds up costing around 20 cents per plate!

But—and this is a big “but”—this only holds true if you’re working with high-quality saffron: saffron that is packed with flavour and colour. Otherwise, you’ll end up having to use far more low-grade saffron to get the desired effect.

So what’s that mean for the saffron buyer? Simple. It just doesn’t pay to buy low-grade saffron, because in the end, you’ll run through it more quickly anyway, and the overall quality of your dishes will be lower.

So by all means, look for good deals when buying saffron: competitive (but not cut-rate) pricing, free or low-cost shipping, high-quality customer service, and the like. But don’t sacrifice quality for the price, because in the end, it just isn’t worth it.


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