EghtesadOnline: A total of 95.83 tons of saffron worth around $123.73 million were exported from Iran during the first five months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Aug. 22).
This shows a 37% and 33% growth in weight and value respectively compared with the corresponding period of last year, latest data released by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration reveal.
The main export destinations for Iranian saffron over the period were Spain, the UAE, Italy, the US, India, France, Canada, Germany, the UK, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Australia, Iraq, Oman, Bahrain, Austria, South Africa, the Netherlands, Japan, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Vietnam, Taiwan, Qatar and Kuwait, Mehr News Agency reported.
Gholamreza Miri, the deputy head of Iran National Saffron Council, said Mashhad, the capital of the northeastern Khorasan Razavi Province, accounts for some 90% of Iran’s saffron exports, according to Financial Tribune.
“Mashhad exported close to 85 tons of saffron during the five-month period, which indicates a 30% rise year-on-year,” Miri was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Close to 95% of Iranian saffron are grown in the two provinces of South Khorasan and Khorasan Razavi.
About 236 tons of saffron worth more than $325 million were exported from Iran during the last fiscal year (March 2017-18), indicating a 55% and 56% growth in weight and value respectively compared with the year before.
The volume marked a 10-year record in exports for two consecutive years.
Iran is the world’s biggest saffron producer with over 300 tons of production per year and accounts for more than 90% of global production.
Per capita consumption of saffron in the Middle Eastern country stands at 1 gram. Annually, 80 tons of saffron are consumed domestically.
However, despite the near-total dominance in output, Iran accounts for around 60% of global saffron trade as a major part of the exports is repackaged, reexported and sold under foreign brands, depriving Iran of the added value.
“About 34% of the saffron cultivated in Iran are labeled and sold by other countries,” Miri said. “The remaining 6% take place in Greece, Afghanistan, India and Spain.”
Saffron exports are being further pressured by the huge volume of legal and illegal shipments of saffron bulb made to neighboring Afghanistan over the past decade, turning the neighboring country into Iran’s rival.
“We need to block the illegal outflow of saffron bulbs and support domestic production and exports,” Gholamhossein Shafei, the former head of the council and current chairman of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, has said.