Why is Saffron So Expensive?

Why is Saffron So Expensive?

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. It has been cultivated for over 3500 years and has been used for different purposes, including making fragrances, medical usage and mainly food flavoring. In modern medicine saffron has been recognized as a strong antioxidant and antidepressant. According to the Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism, a study has been done on 40 adults who were diagnosed with depression. They were asked to take 30 mg of saffron pedal twice a day for 6 weeks, after 6 weeks a significant changed was verified among the patients and it significantly reduced their depression level.

Although saffron has numerous uses and benefits, the main reason of its high price is its cultivation method, which needs a lot of hand labor. In addition, each saffron flower has only three stigmata (know is saffron threads as well). More than 70,000 flowers are needed to have one pound of saffron, considering the use of hand labor it takes along time to harvest the flowers as well.

Historically saffron was cultivated in different regions such as Greece, Egypt, Iran and Rome. One of the first nations who started cultivating saffron instead of using the wide flowers was ancient Persians. In ancient Persia, they used saffron as a valuable gift, in addition it was valued as precious spiritual item as well, for example they used as a fragrance to scent the dead bodies.

Today Iran is the largest producer of saffron. However, Spain is the biggest exporter of saffron in the world and the modern cultivation of Saffron in Europe started from Spain.


Bathaie, Seyedeh Zahra, and Seyedeh Zeinab Mousavi. “Historical uses of saffron: identifying potential new avenues for modern research.” Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine Autumn 2011: 57+. Academic OneFile. Web. 28 Mar. 2013.

Sarris, Jerome. “Saffron petal effective for mild-moderate depression.” Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism 19.1 (2007): 41. Academic OneFile. Web. 27 Mar. 2013. Document URL: http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA174818460&v=2.1&u=nu_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w

Baumann, Leslie S. “Saffron.” Skin & Allergy News July 2009: 22. Academic OneFile. Web. 28 Mar. 2013. Document URL: http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA204206629&v=2.1&u=nu_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w

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