Among the most expensive spices in the world is Saffron and there are a number of reasons why it is so. Here is a list or reasons:
Country of Origin
A lot of counterfeiters and fraudsters start their scheme at the origin of the saffron. With Spanish saffron being twice as expensive as Iranian saffron, a lot of companies choose to counterfeit their saffron as Spanish. In regards with this issue, there are a lot of manufacturing issues that come up because of the inequality in manpower wages between the two countries and also other production costs.
Tip to consumer: Always make sure that the saffron you are buying has a seal of origin and certain certificates to prove its authenticity.
Naturally, lower priced saffron has lower quality as higher priced saffron. According to the ISO standard, the best quality saffron is the Class I. Having said this since it is the best type of saffron, it is also more expensive than Class II or Class III saffron. Always keep an open mind when buying expensive spices. Check on the seal to make sure that you are dealing with the real thing.
Tip for the consumer: Pay attention to the standard quality classes. E.g. "Coupe" or Class I as per ISO 3632-2
Saffron is expensive to deal with because it goes through a lot of middle men and acting companies. For example, 0.1 gram of saffron costs 3 EURO in German supermarkets yet saffron in health stores can cost up to 6 EURO for 0.1 gram of saffron.
The following points give a brief overview of how expensive saffron is in Germany as of Jan 2013:
- Supermarket - Quality control in the "normal Iranian saffron" which is partially declared as Spanish. For 0.1 gram of saffron, it would cost about 3 EURO (30 EURO per gram).
- Shops / Pharmacies - This has very good quality and it is usually premium Iranian saffron or genuine organic saffron from Greece or New Zealand. This would cost approximately 6 EURO for 0.1 gram of saffron (60 EURO per gram)
- Markets - The price per gram for everyday and peak seasons like Christmas varies extremely. 1 gram of premium saffron from Iran would cost 11 EURO. And for partially Spanish saffron, it would cost around 3.50 EUR (0,1 gram) or 35 EUR per gram.
- Internet - The Internet offers the greatest price fluctuations. You can buy in our online shop 10 grams of saffron threads in bulk packaging for 47,- EURO (4,70 EUR per gram) (premium quality). There are also other online spice shops with prices of around 10 EURO per gram or maybe even 6-8 EURO for some Iranian saffron. The 5 gram version usually costs around 29 to 34 EURO whilst 10 grams would be around 47 - 49 EURO.
Tips for the consumer: The Internet offers quality products for a very reasonable price and the quality is often better than that in the supermarket. Look out for reputable suppliers and check out the shipping costs.
Decide wisely before making a decision on where to get your saffron. You might be the type of person who would like to touch and smell your saffron but some online shops offer irresistible deals together with a fourteen-day cancellation privilege and a chance to inspect the product. When choosing an online saffron shop, make sure that their products have seals of authenticity and origin so that you can rest assured you are buying the real deal.