Saffron like everything else on the market has been hit by COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone involved in the process of cultivation, distribution and consumption is influenced by economic crisis caused by Corona virus. There is no sign of recovery yet as the virus is raging and the vaccination is just beginning in some parts of the world.
In this article, we will look at market predictions for saffron in 2021, looking for silver linings and promising future!
Cultivation of saffron requires great amount of patient and care. It is highly labor intensive due to delicate nature of the flowers. 130 workers are needed per acre to plant and harvest saffron. It is obtained from Crocus Sativus plant of the Iris family. The flowers are sun sensitive so they must be picked before sunrise even before they are fully opened. Each flower has 3 stigmas that are super delicate and sensitive to torch and pressure. They are plucked immediately for further processing. They should be dried traditionally in the sun or with modern toasting machines. Then comes the testing and packaging process all done within a short period of harvest. Then products are delivered fast to customers.
From 122 acres of land under saffron cultivation in the world, 115 acres is located in Iran. The majority of that is concentrated in north east, Khorasan Province.
2020 harvest season is just finishing and the data on quantity and quality of the products is not out yet, but the field reports are promising. Last year 500 tons of saffron was produced in Iran from which 80% was exported!
However, due to the harsh economic crisis that Iran has been facing past couple of years, the production cost was increased dramatically which will influence marke prices.
Despite pandemic, Iran was able to export 37 tons of saffron to 52 countries in the second quarter of 2020 valued at 38 million USD. The top destination was Hong Kong followed by Spain and UAE.
Considering 2020 saw the beginning of this global pandemic, the shock that was forced upon economy, the vaccination that is just starting, the lockdowns are expected to finish soon and the exportation will resume. There will be a rush among countries though to supply their markets to recover their crashed economy.
The 2020 harvest is just finished and products are getting ready for delivery. The only obstacle is the partial shutdown of international transportation in order to prevent spread of the virus. Majority of saffron export is done through air which is hugely affected by pandemic and will cause some delays.
US election and new administration is also a determining factor for saffron market. Iran is the major producer of saffron. In fact 90% of the global market is supplied by Iran but the political relationship with US and imposed economic sanctions will influence the exportations not only to US but to other countries as well.
Since the Corona pandemic, health conscious people have started to strong up their body naturally. Super foods that are potent in low quantities are favored as they do not add calories to the diet but deliver high amount of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds to help immune system. They will help the body to resolve current health issues in order to fight the virus effectively. Just a few thread of saffron will bring health protecting magic to your home made meals while adding divine flavor and aroma.
Food and beverage industry is among the biggest consumers as saffron is a healthy additive for many products. But in 2021, the demand for natural coloring and flavoring agents is rising and saffron can easily supply this demand. With unique characteristics and properties such as golden yellow color and exotic aroma and taste, saffron is the fast seller.
The need for new and creative products will hit the market. Saffron can offer health benefits while creating new taste combinations. Healthy drinks and snacks will have the most demand as people are trying to either liquefy their diet or make their solid meals more compact.
Saffron latte is a good example of such new health foods as many people are trying to cut back on coffee consumption and are looking for healthier alternatives. It can be a creamy, foamy drink made with milk, saffron and other ingredients. Of course the milk can be dairy or an alternative milk such as almond or soy milk which are both compatible with saffron.
The hospitality industry was hit really hard by the lockdowns everywhere in the world. They will retune to normal in 2021 but the recovery takes time. They have faced big loss for many months but they will gain confidence again in their spending power. When customers are back after a year of social distancing, there will be a big demand for saffron in restaurants!
COVID_19 pandemic experience proved that strong immune system is critical and prevention is more important than treatment. Pharmaceutical industry has a big potential for saffron as natural preventative drugs are demanded and more research is proving strong therapeutic powers of saffron.
It is a known anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-septic and anti-depressant agent that can address all the heath issues that are associated with current pandemic both in the body and mind. Many saffron importing countries actually use it for pharmaceutical purposes to produce medicines but they will do so with a greater rate in 2021.
Persian Saffron has survived all the ups and downs of the past 3000 years so it can and will survive the COVID-19 pandemic too. It will actually thrive in post Corona economy. Saffron popularity is surging so much that even Aston Martin is releasing DBX Golden Saffron in 2021!