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Saffron in 2021, what is happening?

Saffron like everything else on the market has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone involved in cultivation, distribution, and consumption is influenced by the economic crisis caused by Coronavirus. There is no sign of recovery yet as the virus is raging and the vaccination is just beginning in some parts of the world.

This article will look at market predictions for saffron in 2021, looking for silver linings and a promising future!

Saffron Cultivation

Cultivation of saffron requires a great amount of patient and care. It is highly labor-intensive due to the delicate nature of the flowers. 130 workers are needed per acre to plant and harvest saffron. It is obtained from the 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 the northeast, Khorasan Province.

2020 harvest season is just finishing and the data on the quantity and quality of the products is not out yet, but the field reports are promising. Last year 500 tons of saffron were produced in Iran from which 80% was exported!

However, due to the harsh economic crisis that Iran has been facing the past couple of years, the production cost was increased dramatically which will influence market prices.

Saffron Distribution

Despite the 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 the 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 to prevent the spread of the virus. The majority of saffron export is done through the air which is hugely affected by pandemics and will cause some delays.

US election and the new administration is also a determining factor for the 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 the US and imposed economic sanctions will influence the exportations not only to the US but to other countries as well.

Saffron Consumption

Since the Corona pandemic, health-conscious people have started to strong up their bodies naturally. Superfoods that are potent in low quantities are favored as they do not add calories to the diet but deliver a high amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds to help the immune system. They will help the body to resolve current health issues to fight the virus effectively. Just a few threads of saffron will bring health-protecting magic to your homemade meals while adding divine flavor and aroma.

The 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 a 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 a 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 a strong immune system is critical and prevention is more important than treatment. The pharmaceutical industry has a big potential for saffron as natural preventative drugs are demanded and more research is proving the strong therapeutic powers of saffron.

It is a known antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, and anti-depressant agent that can address all the health issues that are associated with the 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 at 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 the post-Corona economy. Saffron’s popularity is surging so much that even Aston Martin is releasing DBX Golden Saffron in 2021!


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